Highway robbery, and owning a car is only going to get dearer

We already fork out more than €10,000 a year to keep a car - and it's a figure that's rising, says Trevor Laffan
Highway robbery, and owning a car is only going to get dearer

PUMPING UP COSTS: Motorists already pay a lot of tax, and the Greens may come looking for more, fears Trevor Laffan

I SPOKE to a guy recently who has never driven a car in his life. He’s a couple of years younger than me and in all that time, he’s never sat behind the wheel of a car.

He has no interest in cars, and never needed one either.

He spent most of his adult life in the fishing industry and grew up close to where his boat is moored. Shops and pubs were nearby too, so everything he needed was within walking distance.

My initial reaction was to feel sorry for him for losing out on the driving experience, but when I thought about it, I realised that he’s the lucky one.

He has been spared all the stress and aggravation associated with car ownership and has avoided forking out a small fortune on motoring over his lifetime.

The AA did a survey back in 2018 and they estimated it was costing the average motorist more than €10,000 a year to keep their car on the road.

Anyone who owns a car knows only too well that they don’t come cheap. They’re expensive pieces of kit and the cost doesn’t end with the purchase price either, that’s only the start of it.

Getting it from A to B will eat a hole into your wallet too, but many of us don’t have an alternative.

We pay a hefty amount of tax when we buy the car in the first place. We pay a Government levy when we insure it and a good deal of tax goes on every litre of fuel that we put into it.

We also pay road tax before we take it out of the driveway, but I’m not sure exactly why. There was a time when this money went back to the local authority for the upkeep of the roads and all drivers got the benefit of that. But not anymore.

On January 1, 2018, the Government directed that all money raised through motor tax would be paid directly to the Revenue Commissioners, which means that the money we spend on motor tax is no longer going towards improving the condition of the roads.

Looking at the state of them now, that’s not difficult to believe. So, where is it going?

Well, at one stage it was being used to prop up Irish Water so maybe it should be called a river tax instead.

Wherever the money is going, it’s clearly not being spent on our road infrastructure.

I have damaged many wheels in potholes over the years and it’s always been at my own expense. The roads are in a shocking condition and it’s difficult to find out who is responsible. Try claiming for a damaged wheel and you’ll see what I mean.

The motorist isn’t getting a fair deal and the future isn’t looking too bright either.

The Green Party recently secured a role in shaping the future of this country and I think that could be bad news for us motorists. Their leader, Eamonn Ryan, would prefer if we were car-pooling, walking or cycling, but that’s not our only obstacle.

A few years ago, the Government told us that petrol engines were bad for the environment and diesel cars were the way forward, so we were encouraged to buy them. They were very persuasive and reduced the road tax on diesels as a further incentive.

So, for the first time in my life, I bought one and the tax was only €200 a year, whereas it was €800 on my petrol car.

I followed it up in 2018 with another one but no sooner had I arrived home with it than the Government changed its mind. They did a U turn. The diesel car had suddenly regained its bad boy status and we were told to get rid of them because they won’t be available after 2030.

The Government wants us to go electric so they’re pushing up the tax on diesel cars. I have just taxed mine for 2020 and it cost me €80 more, so it’s already on the rise.

I’m beginning to feel like an outcast. I’m responsible for killing polar bears in the Arctic Circle. It’s my fault the ice cap is melting, and Greta Thunberg will soon be calling to my house.

I’ve become the bad guy and that’s all very familiar to me, so I know how it’s going to end.

The next time I change my car, the salesman will cry when he sees me. He’ll shake his head and apologise for not being able to give me a good deal on a trade-in. He’ll explain how it’s not his fault. He would love to do a deal, but nobody wants diesels any more. There will be tears in his eyes as he explains how his world has been turned upside down. His children are hungry and going to school in their bare feet because the market is flooded with cars he can’t sell.

It’s always the same whenever I look for a trade in. I somehow always manage to have the worst car on the market. It’s the wrong make, the wrong model or the most unpopular colour so, I know I’m going to lose out.

Diesel engines went from hero to villain in a short period of time and it’s going to cost me.

One person who is not going to be bothered by all this nonsense though is my auto-less friend. He couldn’t care less about the state of the roads or the current rate of road tax or the high cost of insurance or a salesman’s starving children.

He just wants a footpath to walk on and a boat to fish from and he doesn’t have to worry about falling out with Greta Thunberg either.

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