Great Aussie road trip under threat

Great Aussie road trip under threat

The future of the great Aussie road trip is falling out of favour as young people increasingly turn their backs on driving holidays and embrace cheap airfares instead, research shows.

A report from Roy Morgan Research found that the number of Australians aged under 30 taking driving-only domestic holidays dropped 5 percent to 54 percent in the five years to 2012.

While the average price of petrol has continued to rise in recent years, domestic airfares have fallen significantly thanks to strong competition between rival low-fare airlines.

“Young people are particularly interested in short breaks and going to Melbourne or Sydney for a long weekend has become far more popular. Driving holidays have become less popular as a result,” Roy Morgan Research director of tourism, travel and leisure Jane Ianniello said.

But there are simple ways to cut costs at the pump and enjoy a summer road trip for less this Christmas break.

“Slow down”, says automotive engineer Anthony Sale of Powertrain.

A car speeding at 110km/h uses up to 25 percent more fuel than one cruising at 90km/h, according to the federal government’s Green Vehicle Guide.

“Stamping on the brakes and then accelerating hard is efficient driving’s worst enemy. An efficient driver is a smooth driver,” he said.

Eco-driving

The federal government’s Green Vehicle Guide recommends driving at a good distance from the car in front so you can anticipate traffic movements and minimise fuel use by avoiding sudden breaking and accelerating. An engine runs most efficiently between 1500 and 2500 rpm (lower in diesels), according to the website.

“To maintain these low revs you should change up through the gears as soon as practical and before the revs reach 2500 rpm,” it said.

Automatic transmissions will shift up more quickly and smoothly if you ease back slightly on the accelerator once the car gathers momentum. Also, switching off the engine when stopped for an extended period of time and restarting when necessary uses less fuel than idling.

There are times when you can cut your fuel usage to zero: by cruising in gear as you slow down to a junction or roundabout. Many drivers occasionally put the car into neutral and let it coast as it slows, according to Sale.

“Lifting off the throttle, rather than putting it in neutral, means you will use no fuel at all,” he said, adding that it is safer, too.

Before you drive

Remove excess clutter from your car and take off roof racks if they are not in use to reduce the weight of your car. The lighter your car is, the less fuel it will use.

Under-inflated tyres create more resistance when your car is moving, which means your engine has to work harder and so more fuel is used. Over time, tyres will naturally leak a bit of air. Checking them regularly and maintaining pressures can improve fuel consumption by up to 2 percent.

The car counts

Before you buy, you should consider a car’s fuel economy. All new light vehicles sold in Australia are required to display a Fuel Consumption Label on the front windscreen.

Green Vehicle Guide said the label is designed to help motorists make informed choices about the environmental impact of their new car and the cost of running their vehicle. Check out RateCity’s recent report about the cheapest new cars to run or use the federal government’s fuel calculator.

Shop around

As Australians feel hip-pocket pain with rising petrol prices, smart developers are launching online tools and mobile phone petrol price finders to help drivers save money.

Carsguide recently launched a free tool, which allows you to enter your fuel type and postcode to see a list of prices at service stations in your area, along with a map of where they are located. For smart phones with built in GPS, the site will find where you are and show you cheap petrol around you. To use the service, visit carsguide.mobi on your mobile.

And before you take to the road this summer, make sure your comprehensive car insurance is up to date.   

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Learn more about car insurance

Can I drive a new car without insurance?

It is illegal to drive a car in Australia without insurance. Most states require that you get your insurance in place before you drive the car off the dealership’s plot. So, the answer to whether driving a new car without insurance is no, it is not allowed.

The only time you can possibly legally drive an uninsured car is when you have to get the vehicle registered. You should drive straight to an inspection station or your state's vehicle registry. You must also make sure that you take the most direct or convenient route possible.

It is important to note that your compulsory third party insurance (CTP or green slip) isn’t valid until your car is registered.

Driving an unregistered or uninsured vehicle can have severe legal repercussions. If you are involved in an accident, and are driving an unregistered and uninsured vehicle, you will be personally liable to pay compensation to anyone hurt, as well as for damages. If you are caught driving a vehicle without insurance, you may be fined or even have your vehicle seized.

 

Does insurance cover a stolen car if keys were in the car?

A car insurance policy that covers the theft of your car, such as third party fire and theft insurance, usually covers a stolen car, even if the keys were in the car’s ignition.

However, your insurer may deny the claim if you live in an area where there have been several car robberies reported recently. They will see you leaving the keys in the car as a case of negligence. In such cases, your insurance provider may even expect you to have installed anti-theft security measures in your car. 

You may need to confirm whether or not you left your keys in your car, and if they had been stolen or misplaced, before filing your car insurance claim. The loss or theft of your car keys may be covered by a comprehensive car insurance policy, but usually as an optional item.

If you can confirm that your car keys were stolen, mention this in your claim as this will help establish that your car was not stolen as a result of your negligence.

Can you insure your car for 6 months?

Most Australian insurers won’t offer you a 6-month car insurance policy, so you may need to buy a policy that covers your car for damages and cancel it after six months. You will need to purchase comprehensive car insurance to protect your car from accidental damage, theft, vandalism, or natural disasters.. 

Consider checking whether your 6-month comprehensive car insurance will cost more if you pay monthly or six-monthly premiums instead of a one-time annual premium. Another question to ask the insurer is whether you’ll need to pay administration or cancellation fees when you cancel the policy.

Alternatively, you can look for a suitable ‘pay as you drive’ car insurance policy, which usually offers you the coverage of a comprehensive car insurance policy but only requires you to pay for the distance driven. Such a policy may not be the ideal 6-month car insurance plan as it is based on how much you drive rather than for how long. If you need to drive a lot, you may end up paying more than you’d pay for regular car insurance.