The Daily Telegraph
Cost of living crisis poses threat to road safety, warns Halfords boss
THE cost of living crisis poses a risk to road safety as drivers buy older cars and struggle to pay for maintenance, the boss of Halfords has warned.
Graham Stapleton, chief executive of the motoring retailer, said the squeeze on household budgets may lead to drivers cutting corners, with a knock-on impact on safety. He said: “There’s definitely a chance that there could be more accidents on the road. The odds are that that will be the case.”
Mr Stapleton called for a public awareness campaign to ensure motorists continue to keep their cars properly maintained, serviced and up-to-date with their MOT.
He added: “Particularly as we go into autumn and winter with colder weather, maybe the cost of living crisis getting more acute, it’s important that this isn’t something that customers stop doing. It’s as essential as eating basic foods because there’s such a big safety implication.”
The Halfords boss warned there was a further risk to safety as drivers held on to their cars for longer or opted to buy second-hand vehicles. The average age of a vehicle has risen by a year over the last decade, while almost a quarter of cars are now more than 13 years old – the average age of a car at scrappage.
Mr Stapleton also called for caution after Liz Truss, the Prime Minister, said she would consider scrapping motorway speed limits. He said: “If you were going to remove all speed limits and at the same time you’ve got ageing cars and the general public doing less to maintain cars, a combination of all those things together are not going to be helpful.”
Meanwhile, Halfords reported higher sales thanks to its expanding car repairs business. Total revenues grew by 9.2pc over the 20 weeks to Aug 19, compared to the same period last year. Sales rose more than 30pc. Halfords, which enjoyed a boost from bicycle sales during the pandemic, has set out plans to focus on its motoring business, which now accounts for 70pc of total sales.
Mr Stapleton shrugged off concerns that surging fuel prices would lead to fewer people driving, saying Halfords was focused on the longer-term resilience of its car repairs business.