Britain’s fuel tanker drivers have voted in favour of a strike, possibly over the Easter weekend (6-9th April), meaning that petrol and diesel could be – temporarily, at least – prevented from getting into garage forecourts and into your car, causing all sorts of bother for people and industry across the country.
If you cast your mind back to the autumn of 2000, the last time when this sort of thing took place, you’ll remember the grief it caused – lengthy queues of worried motorists stockpiling supplies, panic abound and the country quickly grinding to a halt. There’s even talk afoot of the army stepping in to drive the tankers to their destinations in case of the worst. Unite, the union which as balloted members on the strike has pointed to "unrelenting attacks" on drivers' terms and conditions.
Drivers could walk out as early as next month. The drivers which have been balloted account for the vast majority (about 90 per cent) of all of those who supply fuel to Britain’s forecourts. Training of army drivers to drive the fuel lorries will commence next week, as part of government contingency plans.
It’s not our place to say whether or not a strike is right or wrong or justified, but what we CAN do is give you a few tips on stocking up and driving more effectively, courtesy of the Institute of Advanced Motorists’s director of policy and research, Neil Greig. He said: “Everyone in the UK is dependent on road transport for work, the essentials of daily life, access to health care and leisure. The IAM hopes that a quick resolution can be found without resorting to strikes, picket lines or calling in the army. But don’t wait for a fuel shortage before you decide to save money and fuel. You can do this simply by changing your driving style.”
When to stock up on fuel
- Panic buying only adds to any shortages so don’t waste money by keeping the tank full unless you absolutely have to travel by car.
- Storing large quantities of fuel is dangerous and illegal. Only keep fuel in an approved container of up to 5 litres in size.
Drive and save fuel by doing the following:
- Keep your vehicle moving for as long as possible, even in traffic queues. This is far more fuel efficient than stopping and starting, so slow down earlier, to avoid braking as harshly and often.
- Reverse into parking bays. If you do all the manoeuvring with a hot engine you can drive straight off when you come back and warm the engine up more quickly.
- Check your vehicle regularly to ensure it operates efficiently. In particular check the condition of your tyres, and measure tyre pressures when they’re cold.
- Remove unnecessary weight, including roof racks, car clutter and heavy items in the boot. The more weight you carry in the car, the more fuel you’ll burn.