. Paying by the mile | London Progressive Journal
A non-partisan journal of the left.

Paying by the mile

Mon 7th May 2012

Running a car, especially for young people, has become an arduous task in modern times. Currently, a seventeen year-old who is just passing their test has more than enough to deal with.

Even before they’ve passed, hundreds of pounds have already been spent on driving lessons (mine used to cost £20 an hour which seemed to be the standard cost those days when I’ve asked others about it), and then a further £31 is actually required to take the test[1]. I didn’t pass first time, meaning I had to pay the fee again. I know people who’ve taken multiple tests before passing, pumping a good wedge of cash into the industry.

Once they’ve passed and obtained their license, they may already have a car purchased whilst on a provisional license, or maybe they’ll be investing in one after passing their test. £1000 or so is what I’d speculate as a standard amount for a decent, reliable, fairly-modern and manageable second hand car.

Then they have to take out an insurance policy, which will be unforgiving when they start driving. My first policy, when I was seventeen, was with Quinn Insurance who charged me £220 a month for my first year of driving, and only covered for Third Party Fire & Theft. An absolutely absurd amount, yet the cheapest I could find on price comparison websites. In all honesty, I’ve never came across anyone else who paid anywhere near as much as I did, but I couldn’t find anything cheaper and I couldn’t do anything about this, as insurance is a legal requirement for car owners.

I had to scrape money together each month for something extortionately priced that I couldn’t back out of. Even in the years that have passed, I still can’t be quoted for less than £1000 a year, after all this time, and still on Third Party Fire & Theft.

Then of course there’s road tax, which for me just driving a small 1.1L Citroen Saxo is £72.50 every six months, or £145 per year, with prices increasing for larger vehicles.

And then, to obtain a tax disc, the driver has to book his car in for an MOT every twelve months, which according to Direct.gov.uk costs £54.85[2]. And don't forget the driver has to buy fuel regularly, which at today’s prices is an average of £1.40 per litre[3].

I hardly dare mention parking fees. Most car parks these days con you by charging a minimum of two hours parking (which not only increases revenue for the car park, but provides an incentive for the driver to stay in town for longer and thereby spend more money at local shops. In the past, I’ve been charged over £6 for parking less than half an hour.

Lastly there’s the incidental fees, such as if your car gets vandalised, or if something goes wrong with the car, and don't forget the congestion charge in London.

My main point is to emphasise the unfairness faced by teenagers who are passing their test today, lumbered with all these overheads when they’re living in an era when getting a job is a task in itself. Bear in mind too the teenagers studying at college who aren’t receiving EMA anymore.

Despite these ridiculous costs, millions of UK motorists are still paying up, legally bound to do so. The amount of money our government and fat cat bosses earn from UK motorists must be something quite spectacular, and another figure that can’t provide legitimacy for a supposed recession.

1. http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/LearnerAndNewDrivers/LearningToDriveOrRide/DG_4022530 Driving Test Prices at Direct.gov.uk

2. http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/motoring/owningavehicle/mot/dg_4022514 MOT Test Prices at Direct.gov.uk

3. http://www.petrolprices.com/ PetrolPrices.com
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