9.0 Motorists and the government
The new Government should take note of the mood of motorists and listen to their concerns. Motorists recognise that major investment in new roads is neither affordable, nor desirable. However, they do want better management and maintenance of the existing road network and a joined up transport policy. So what do motorists expect of the new Government and how can it get them to re-engage with key motoring issues such as the environmental impact of motoring?
"We will end the war on motorists," said the new Secretary of State for Transport, Philip Hammond. "Motoring has got to get greener but the car is not going to go away." New policy measures announced on 14 May 2010 include a new "fuel price stabiliser" which will lead to a reduction in fuel duty if oil prices rise sharply; no new funding from central Government for the installation of speed cameras; and further efforts to curb rogue wheel clamping firms. He also ruled out the introduction of road pricing on the existing road network, although tolls could be introduced on newly built roads.
9.1 The History
While there is a temptation to believe that issues faced by today's motorists are new and unique, previous RAC Reports on Motoring show this is not the case. In 2005, the same year as the last general election, 84% of motorists considered themselves law abiding but 55% admitted to exceeding the speed limit every day. They were also concerned about the bad driving behaviour of other people.
Going back further to 2001, also an election year, 86% said they would find it difficult to adjust to life without their car, while congestion and other people's driving were also of concern. Only 4% hankered after a more environmentally-friendly car and 25% wanted improvements to the infrastructure of the existing road network.
Looking back further still to 1998, the year after the general election that saw Tony Blair elected into Downing Street, two thirds of motorists were calling on the new Government to encourage people to use public transport and half wanted more efficient use of existing roads. Some 60% also wanted the Government to subsidise manufacturers of fuel efficient vehicles, and 89% wanted tougher exhaust emission tests as part of the MOT to force the most polluting cars off the road.
9.2 What do Today's Motorists Want?
37% of motorists want improvements in the quality and condition of the existing road network to be the main priority for the new Government. Almost a third put a reduction in the cost of motoring as the top priority and 13% want the new Government to concentrate on improving road safety.
On the environment 56% say it's a big issue that Government should be tackling.
Sixty per cent say financial incentives to go green such as the £5,000 electric car grant, and 57% think more investment in green public transport would help.
On congestion, motorists would like to see:
Tighter regulations of utility companies when conducting streetworks.
More investment in alternative modes of transport.
Congestion relieved in city centres by selective investment in local road infrastructure.
More park and ride schemes.
More integration of car travel with other modes of transport in city centres.
Motorists accept that the new Government will not have money to throw at transport policy, which is why their demands are the more powerful because in most cases they do not require huge investment - just joined up thinking.
8.0 The economy and the motorist