The motoring landscape is set to change


From changes to the car insurance market to the end of tax discs, the motoring landscape is going through quite an upheaval at the current moment.

The Competition and Markets Authority has put the finishing touches on its report into car insurance companies, and its recommendations are sure to change the way insurers do business. Insurers and car insurance comparison sites will no longer be allowed to have exclusive deals under new regulations that have been adopted from the CMA; the move is supposed to foster better competition between comparison sites where there wasn’t enough to the CMA’s liking before.

What this means for us mere mortals I can only guess. Ostensibly we’ll be able to get cheap car insurance out of the deal, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Meanwhile today’s the day that the venerable tax disc comes to an end in the UK, as no new ones will be issued for new payments or renewals.

No, this doesn’t mean they’re getting discontinued completely – you’re still going to have to pay tax on your car. The difference is that instead of getting a paper disc for your windscreen the fact that you’ve paid your tax will be available when the authorities run your license plate number through their system.

This is one of those things that the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority thinks will save money. Ostensibly it will, with the costs of paper tax discs running into the £10 million range on an annual basis, but I think something’s missing here from the DVLA’s reckoning: the specialised, sophisticated cameras that are to be fitted to police vehicles in order to scan license plates automatically aren’t exactly cheap pieces of equipment. I wonder how expensive it is to have police vehicles fitted with these cameras – and how much the software costs to implement and maintain?

Not only that, does anyone else feel like we’re inching closer and closer to some Orwellian public surveillance nightmare? I know that’s a losing battle considering London has the most CCTV cameras of any city in the world, but it just maddens me to think that reading George Orwell’s 1984 has turned not into a warning against totalitarian regimes but instead a blueprint for the future. It’s double-plus-ungood.

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