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9 March 2011
Soaring oil costs have pushed the UK's average price of petrol above 132p a litre – the £6 gallon – for the first time ever.
£6 a gallon is not just another milestone along the road to higher fuel prices, it marks the point at which the wheels start to come off mobility in 21st century UK.
These high prices are already leaving casualties among drivers, consumers and business.
"Lower-income drivers, poorer rural residents, volunteer drivers and youngsters looking to their first jobs are some of the vulnerable groups struggling to stay on the road," says Edmund King, the AA's president.
The pump price of petrol now averages 132.12p/litre while the average price of diesel also hit a new record at 137.92p.
The cost of petrol has risen 6.93p a litre since the start of the year, and 1.68p a litre in the past week.
Over the past two years, the AA has warned that unbridled speculation in the oil markets and a constant drip of fuel tax rises would haemorrhage family finances to the point that it would damage the local and wider economy.
Middle East troubles have brought matters to a head, but the writing's been on the wall for months and only now are government and business analysts taking notice.
The Government must act urgently to reduce the burden of high fuel duty and VAT.
In the meantime drivers are going to have to manage as best as they can, by cutting out journeys, driving more economically and hoping that a stronger pound will cushion some of the blow.