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Government announces measures to cut motoring costs

The government has announced a wide ranging package of measures designed to slash the cost of motoring. They include cracking down on the so-called compensation culture associated with whiplash injury claims. They will also target inflated fuel costs on major trunk roads and motorways, by piloting as system of fuel price comparison signs. The cost of an MoT will also be frozen at £54.85 until at least 2015.

The government has announced a wide ranging package of measures designed to slash the cost of motoring. They include cracking down on the so-called compensation culture associated with whiplash injury claims. They will also target inflated fuel costs on major trunk roads and motorways, by piloting as system of fuel price comparison signs. The cost of an MoT will also be frozen at £54.85 until at least 2015. Bloated fuel costs at motorway service stations are one of the most common complaints of hard-pressed drivers. Prices can be as much as 10p per litre more than the average in the surrounding area. There is also little or no competition, as often the service stations have the only fuel available for tens of miles. Furthermore, motorists do not know the price until they have pulled off the motorway, by which time they are unlikely to leave without filling up. 

The fight against compensation culture will focus on bogus claims for whiplash injuries. Current legislation allows insurance companies to make an offer to those claiming such injuries without the need for a medical examination. Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary, said: "We are turning the tide on the compensation culture and helping hard-working people by tackling high insurance premiums and other motoring costs. It's not right that people who cheat the insurance system get away with it while forcing up the price for everyone else, so we are now going after whiplash fraudsters and will keep on driving premiums down."

The package of measures was welcomed by the Opposition. Chair of the Commons Transport Select Committee, Louise Ellman, commented: "The Transport Select Committee has looked at this over a long time and very recently we recommended that insurance companies shouldn't pay out for whiplash claims without a medical report and that those medical reports should come from independent medical practitioners, so I'm very pleased that the government have now accepted one of our key recommendations."

Doctors, though admitting that the incidence of whiplash injuries in the UK was far higher than the rest of Europe, highlighted the difficulty they face in confronting patients with suspicious injury claims. Dr. Rosemary Leonard, a GP, said: "If you had a genuinely nasty shunt in your car and you went to your doctor and you said 'Well my neck's aching a bit,' and the doctor just said 'Well actually I don't believe you,' you would quite rightly be very annoyed. So as GPs we're in this position where we have to go along with what the patient says, because if we don't and it's a genuine case we could be sued."

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