Foreword by Quentin Willson
In my many years of experience in the motoring industry, it seems to me that the sense of abandonment felt by UK motorists has never been as acute as it is today.
And it's fairly clear why they do feel abandoned. We have never before had such high fuel and insurance costs, factors which have combined with a road system struggling to cope, and a lack of traffic police enforcement.
I can also understand why people don't believe that the 'War on Motorists' is finally over. Drivers clearly think that the anti-car culture hasn't changed and many are saying that driving has become a cheerless and unaffordable chore.
The greatest concern in the driver's mind today is the spiralling cost of fuel. Duty rises are causing untold hardship for millions of motorists. Drivers are being forced to use the roads less, and there's a clear feeling that the price of fuel is hindering economic growth and reducing discretionary spending. In short, the lack of proper fuel price management has become a national neurosis and it is this issue that I continue to campaign vigorously on.
Different drivers are also feeling the pain in different ways. For rural motorists, public transport frequently isn't a viable option meaning they have little choice but to keep filling up the fuel tank. For urban drivers, getting to the shops, commuting to work, and doing the school run are all becoming frighteningly expensive. This is forcing people to make unpalatable personal sacrifices.
In summary, for me, this year's Report on Motoring is a serious indictment on the UK's road transport system. Sadly, too many who took part in the research think that there's little hope of change and that in the short to medium term, motoring standards won't improve. The challenge now is to provide motorists with reasons to believe they aren't facing yet another year of road misery.