Mar 23 2009 Mike Waters
A virtuous circle for tough times
THE economic conditions during the second half of 2008 were gloomy to say the least and so far this year doesn't look like being any easier.
For most people running a car is a big expense and with this in mind it has become more important than ever to keep a handle on vehicle costs. However, there is a real danger that some drivers will be so hung up on saving money that they will take their eye off the ball in other important areas.
The important areas that I refer to are the environment and road safety, both factors that no driver can afford to ignore. The bottom line is that the government certainly isn't going to let up on these things during the credit crunch and so neither should you.
To have a chance of meeting their targets to reduce CO2 emissions over the next decade the government has no choice but to target drivers. The result is the combined carrot and stick approach that we are already seeing, designed to reduce the miles that we drive and get people into 'greener' cars.
What is more, road safety remains a high priority with penalties for dangerous driving and unsafe vehicles becoming stiffer all the time.
Dealing with all of these things effectively may seem like a daunting prospect but what you need to appreciate is that cost, environment and safety are all directly linked. A properly maintained vehicle, well driven combined with good environmental practice will save you money.
The best example of this is fuel which is one of the biggest costs that most car owners will face. So regular servicing and generally taking care of your vehicle improves its performance. If you drive a car with good environmental performance it will be fuel efficient and so cheaper to run.
By the same token, if you are driving safely you are likely to be reducing your speed so reducing the chances of an accident and driving up your fuel efficiency. More efficient vehicles save in tax and safer drivers cut costs in accident repairs, fines, vehicle wear and tear and insurance premiums.
Times are tough but taking a blinkered approach to managing the costs associated with your vehicle is a false economy; it has never been more important to be aware of the methods at your disposal to save money.
Don't lose sight of the fact that managing safety and environmental performance are not distinct - they go hand in hand - and getting into this virtuous circle will help your bank balance and keep you safe during the credit crunch.
Mike Waters is director of market insight at Arval, Europe's leading fleet and fuel management company.