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4.0 Motoring priorities and funding

Road worker

Motorists continue to have little appetite for grandiose and expensive transport infrastructure schemes. They recognise that funding for investment in transport is limited and want what money that is available to be prioritised so that local authorities have the resources to maintain and improve their local roads. Maintenance of motorways and high speed carriageways takes a slightly lower priority but is still important. However, new airport capacity and high speed rail links command a low funding priority.

Government proposals to increase the number of toll roads are supported by 38% of motorists but only instead of, rather than as well, as existing forms of motoring taxation.

4.1 The state of the roads

More than eight in ten motorists think the quality of their local roads is getting worse and 77% think they are getting busier. Seven in ten motorists think the condition of motorways and major roads is noticeably worse. But there is slightly less concern about the state of the roads than 12 months ago. This is likely to be attributable to a milder winter resulting less damage in 2011/12 than in 2010/11. An injection of government funding to repair potholes during 2011 will also have influenced opinion. Encouragingly, 44% think both local and motorway journey times are becoming more predictable.

4.2 Motoring Taxation

Half of motorists (49%) believe the high taxes levied on motorists are intended to deter them from using their car. Not surprisingly, four in five motorists believe more of the motoring taxes that they pay should be reinvested into local roads. But support for this has fallen from 86% in 2010 as memories of the worst excesses of potholes fade.

The number of motorists that believe their motoring taxes should be invested back into local public transport has grown from 67% in 2010 to 71% in 2012.

These views suggest a gradual acceptance by motorists that there is not a bottomless pit of money to be spent on transport, and local councils are perhaps doing their best with the resources available to them. However they are looking to Government to offer incentives to entice drivers out of their cars rather than imposing additional motoring taxes as a deterrent to driving.

4.3 Where to spend

  • 83% identified spending on maintenance of existing local roads as a priority. 31% ranked this as their highest priority, rising to 34% of suburban motorists and 38% of 45-59 year olds.
  • 75% included spending on maintenance of existing motorways as a priority. This was top priority for 16%, but this rose to 18% of company car drivers and 20% of rural drivers.
  • 73% prioritised targeted improvements to local roads, for example to improve bottlenecks. 14% made this their top priority, with 16% of suburban drivers and 18% of motorists aged 60-69.
  • 30% wanted money spent on better provisions for cyclists as a priority.
  • Only 6% wanted increased regional airport capacity, and 16% the new high speed rail link.

Motorist’s priorities clearly reflect the type of driving that motorists do most often. Company car drivers and rural motorists give greater priority than urban motorists to maintaining motorways, perhaps because they drive on them most, whilst suburban and older drivers feel more strongly about local roads being maintained and improved for the same reasons.

"The Government has given the go ahead for a high speed rail network between London and Birmingham, but there is still little support from the general public – it’s the wrong solution to the wrong problem."

David Leibling
Transport and Motoring Consultant

4.4 What company car drivers want

As the group of motorists who typically drive the most, company car drivers often have differing views on motoring to the rest of the driving population. For example, while 72% of private motorists think motorways are deteriorating, only 62% of company car drivers support this view. They do however feel more strongly than private motorists that congestion is getting worse (71% against 69%).

  • 85% think taxes are not sufficiently reinvested in local roads against 79% of private motorists.
  • 33% of company car drivers would support more toll roads as an alternative to the current system of taxation against 38% of private motorists.

5.0 Safety and security

3.0 Motorists and Money