Around two thirds of UK road users would support a scrappage scheme for older diesel cars, vans and lorries in an effort to get the worst polluting vehicles off our roads, according to a survey by IAM RoadSmart.
The survey, by the UK’s biggest independent road safety charity, asked respondents to rate the various options put forward in the government’s recent nitrogen dioxide consultation but found that only 3% of respondents are confident that the proposed measures solve the problem quickly.
More than 1,400 people across the UK including members and non-members took part in the survey, which was conducted earlier this month.
Some 64% of those surveyed said they supported a diesel scrappage scheme, compared to 27% who did not. Most wanted any scheme to apply to cars over eight years old.
Some 83% of those surveyed by IAM RoadSmart agreed with the government’s view retro-fitting buses, coaches, HGVs, vans and black cabs with new equipment should be the priority.
However those surveyed felt the driver as an individual also has a responsibility to drive in a more eco-friendly manner. Some 75% agreed that encouraging drivers to change their driving behaviour should play a part in the government’s approach to tackling air quality.
UK drivers appear to have been influenced by the ‘dieselgate’ scandal as 67% of them either mistrust or strongly mistrust car makers to sell cars that will match consumer expectations for environmental performance.
Sarah Sillars, IAM RoadSmart Chief Executive Officer, said, “It is clear to me that the public at large feel the government needs to be decisive and proactive when it comes to making our air quality better. They see strong government direction as key to making sure it happens.
“We must not forget that drivers themselves have a part to play in the way they drive – it is within the power of each of us to become better and more eco-friendly driver and our responsibility to do so.”
She added, “It is however clear that the car manufacturers have some way to go to rebuild trust with the public – it would seem that only when their environmental claims more closely match real world performance that the trust will be on the increase. Reputations take years to build and moments to fall.”
Commercial vehicle fleets are likely to be hit hardest by the backlash against diesel simply because of the lack of alternatives available, says FleetCheck.
The fleet software specialist says that the mainstream media commentary developing against diesel is often indiscriminate and frequently does not appreciate the strides made in reducing harmful diesel emissions in recent years.
Peter Golding, managing director, said: “You can barely open a newspaper without reading about the dire effects of diesel on air quality and this is starting to have an impact on buying habits, most notably in the 20% fall in diesel new car sales last month.
“Initially, this is only hitting older vehicles in terms of actual measures such as clean air zones, but it does seem inevitable that we are at the beginning of a long term trend where diesel is seen as ‘dirty’ and using a diesel vehicle will become less and less acceptable.
“This is more easily managed by car fleets because there are a range of viable alternatives but there are almost none for commercial vehicle fleets, with just a handful of petrol and electric models available in the van sector.”
Peter said that none of the available alternatives offered CV fleets anything like the same combination of durability, driveability, range and economy as diesel.