While the recession is technically over, money is still a concern for most people, and motorists are being hit harder and harder with increased taxes and steep hikes in the cost of fuel.
Has motorists' behaviour changed? Are they driving less and walking more? Are they feeling under attack as an easy 'revenue raising' target by the Government or are they content that the money raised in taxes is being used to fill in the ubiquitous potholes? Do environmental issues concern them or, as with last year's Report, has the effort to make financial ends meet pushed all external concerns to the bottom of the list?
The 2010 RAC Report on Motoring shows motorists are becoming more inward-looking. They are more concerned about their home and local area than national or global issues and their energy is being spent on using what resources they have in the most cost efficient and effective way. They are not in the mood for change and if this has to happen then they need to be incentivised or forced to make the change through increased restrictions and penalties.
Motorists are looking for local solutions to the challenges they face on the roads. Fuel prices, potholes and road works are making them feel disenfranchised, with their concerns not being listened to on a national scale. So they are looking to their local surroundings to see whether they can highlight concerns and influence any of the solutions.
This means issues such as other people's behaviour - both behind the wheel and in driving without insurance and tax - are of much more concern than ever before. Following last year's trend, the environment has slipped even further down motorists' list of priorities. A positive side effect of the recession, however, is that driving more economically to save money also means driving in a more environmentally-friendly way.
Older drivers are also a focus of this year's Report on Motoring. With an ageing population, issues such as whether there should be regular medical tests and at what age they should start cannot be ignored. Motorists of all ages agree there should be regular medical tests - and many would be happy to take them throughout their driving career. Refresher courses are also favoured, as evidence does show that a motorist's responses slow down with age.
While saving the planet may not be top of a motorist's list of priorities, there is growing interest in electric vehicles. Drivers want more information and a better network of charging points before they will commit themselves, but there is a willingness to change provided they are cheaper and more environmentally-friendly to run than conventional cars.
With a new coalition Government settling itself into Downing Street, there is scope to reopen the dialogue and give motorists a fairer deal. Their concerns are reasonable and their wish list feasible, even taking into account the dire state of the economy.
So far, the new Government has shown every indication that it is willing to look for a new path. Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond has already pledged to end the "war on motorists" and the coalition has promised, amongst other things, a national network of recharging points for electric vehicles and new ways to make roads safer, such as introducing 'drugalysers'.
The challenge for both Government and motorists is to work together to create a sustainable framework for the future, allowing people to drive as they need to, but also meeting environmental and economic targets.
2.0 Who is the motorist?
RAC Story Booth: British motorists tell us what they think