Our view on calls from the Police Federation for a reduction in the drink-drive limit in England and Wales
RAC chief engineer David Bizley: “While it’s important to remember that there has been a steady reduction in the number of drink-drive casualties in recent years, thousands of people are still injured or killed on our roads as a result of someone being over the legal limit. The issue clearly remains a highly charged one, with more than a third of motorists telling us that they want to see the limit in England and Wales brought into line with Scotland, and almost a quarter wanting to go the way of some other European countries with a zero limit. Nine out of ten motorists also said that having different drink-drive limits north and south of the border was a recipe for confusion.
“The Government says that tackling drink-driving in England and Wales is a priority, but the simple question is now this – with a significant weight of opinion behind a reduction in the limit, are there any solid reasons to oppose one?
“Aside from a new limit, the other side to reducing drink-driving is greater enforcement of the existing law – something that the RAC called into question in February when we revealed the 23% drop in the numbers of full time traffic police officers on our roads.”
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RAC: Our view on the short-term motoring priorities for the Transport Secretary
Following the re-appointment of Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP as Secretary of State for Transport, RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “There is now a golden opportunity for the Transport Secretary to oversee the delivery of the commitments included in the Road Investment Strategy and in his party’s manifesto.
“The UK’s motorists, who are among the most heavily taxed in Europe, can look forward to benefiting from the boldest investment plan in a generation for England’s strategic roads which will tackle some of the nation’s worst bottlenecks and congestion pinch points.
“But the political foot must not be taken off the gas – there are a number of pressing issues that the Transport Secretary must now get to grips with such as ensuring the UK’s pothole crisis is finally resolved with equally imaginative plans to tackle the maintenance backlog on local roads and examining the contribution that the whole transport sector can make to improving air quality.
“On road safety, we call on him to consider reintroducing casualty reduction targets. Such targets have proven effective in the past, and with the number of children killed or seriously injured on our roads up for the first time in 20 years, now is the time for action to be taken. We also call on him to publish the green paper on young drivers, something that was mooted in the previous parliament but never saw the light of day.
“Finally, motoring taxation is likely to come under renewed scrutiny. Motorists and businesses are both looking for, as a minimum, continuation of the fuel duty freeze. Whilst the Treasury is likely to have the final say, we hope the Transport Secretary will continue to stand up for motorists and encourage a common sense approach by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.”
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RAC comment on end of the driving licence paper counterpart from 8 June 2015
RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “Our research shows that with just over a month to go before the paper counterpart to the photocard licence disappears 55% of drivers are not aware of the planned change. More than a third (35%) of motorists, however, believe it is a good idea that will help to simplify the process of making changes to their licences, and very few thinking it to be a bad decision.
“The DVLA has for some time provided an online facility for drivers to check penalty points’ information on their licences and doing away with the counterpart was the logical next step. The issue that held up the move was providing drivers’ information in a format that would work for car hire companies.
“While this has now been addressed there will, no doubt, be a settling in period where rental companies, particularly abroad, come to terms with the change. Hopefully this will not lead to too many unwanted holiday dramas for Brits hiring cars abroad this summer.”
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RAC comment on the planned introduction of eCall, the emergency alert system
On 28 April 2015, the European Parliament voted to introduce eCall, the in-vehicle emergency alert system, into all new cars and light vans by the end of March 2018.
RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “Automatically alerting emergency services in the event of a crash is a very positive use of technology which has the potential to benefit thousands of motorists across Europe in years to come.
“However, the key issue that needs to be addressed is around the alerting system and the fact that eCall will only be triggered when a serious collision occurs and a vehicle’s airbag is deployed. While this appears at first sight to make good sense, the potential benefit to motorists could be far greater if alerts were able to be sent in lower speed incidents, which might still lead to occupants requiring emergency assistance.
“As it is, the number of lives that would be saved by the system will be relatively small, particularly in the UK, so drivers will end up paying extra money for a service that is far less likely to benefit to them.
“So while eCall will undoubtedly offer some advantages, the system being brought in by the EU is something of an opportunity lost – crash detection technology already exists that covers the entire spectrum of accidents from low speed to high speed. If this more sensitive technology was used within eCall even more people could benefit from receiving faster emergency help from the most appropriate emergency service. In addition, insurers and – in the case of businesses, fleet managers – could be provided with appropriate information about the incident.
“While this might involve greater costs in terms of the additional verbal checks that would need to be made by call centre teams through eCall to establish the seriousness of the incident the overall benefit to motorists and their passengers would be significantly higher.
“The RAC has developed its own technology which has been found by the Transport Research Laboratory to be 92% accurate in detecting crash and non-crash events in more than 60 tests. These results are significantly higher than the industry average of less than 70% for on-road systems, and have led to talks with vehicle manufacturers with a view to incorporating the technology in vehicles at manufacture. Currently, the technology is available as a part of the RAC's telematics service.”
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RAC comment on impact of vehicle excise duty tax disc changes
RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “There continues to be confusion on the rules around vehicle tax, following the changes that came in last October. When cars are sold with in-date tax discs still on display in the windscreen, some motorists are mistakenly thinking this means the vehicle is still taxed. But the changes mean that vehicle tax can now no longer be transferred when a vehicle is sold; it is the duty of the new owner to ensure it is taxed from the day they purchase it.
“It does appear as if the end of the physical tax disc – which was always a useful visual cue to owners as to when they needed to renew their tax – is continuing to catch some motorists out.
"The message is clear: if you’re buying a car, disregard what might still be stuck to the windscreen, and ensure you pay the relevant tax online or over the phone immediately. The automated system the DVLA now uses can identify untaxed vehicles easily; if your car is untaxed you risk being fined, possibly in excess of £1,000, plus the cost of releasing it if clamped or impounded.”
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RAC analysis of motoring-related pledges in the Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem manifestos
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “The Conservatives’ continued commitment to investing in the strategic road network to ease congestion and add resilience, and tackling the perennial problem of potholes, is a positive sign, although there is little that is new here. The £15bn Road Investment Strategy was published in December 2014 and motorists will simply want to see that the associated projects are delivered to plan. On potholes, what is needed is firm action that tackles the route cause which is a chronic under-investment in preventative maintenance over many years. Local authorities need the certainty of adequate funding over a sustained period, so they can plan their maintenance programmes more effectively.
“There is no commitment in the manifesto to continuing the freeze on fuel duty, the toughest form of taxation on the motorist, in the long term. Indeed, this is something that is also lacking in other party manifestos. While this suggests there is little appetite to look at this, we call on all the main political parties to make their position on fuel duty crystal clear, so that motorists are not unfairly hit with a nasty surprise when the new government takes office after May 7.”
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “While the promise from Labour to place a greater focus on improving local roads – something the RAC has long since called for – is to be welcomed, on behalf of motorists we would like clarity on what exactly is the party’s position on the strategic road network.
“On the one hand, the party states it ‘support[s] long-term investment in strategic roads’, but on the other reports indicate it plans to divert funds destined for two much-needed projects in Somerset and Hampshire to help fund a cap on rail fare increases. These two projects are fully costed, should have strong economic cases, and formed part of the previous Government’s Road Investment Strategy (RIS) which was sold to motorists as such a long-term vision for our strategic roads.
“It would be a serious retrograde step for the nation’s roads if the RIS itself is now gone back upon, before there has been time for it to deliver tangible improvements to our roads. Is there also a risk that, as other spending cuts take hold, delayed projects actually never end up seeing the light of day?”
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “The Lib Dem plans for a reform of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) will require further scrutiny, as ultimately motorists will want to know whether or not they may end up paying more in tax.
“There is an important balance that would need to be struck here. On the one hand it is right that the tax system incentivises the purchase of more efficient vehicles; however for many years VED has been a sliding scale based on a vehicle’s CO2 emissions, which incentivised the widespread purchase of new diesel cars. The RAC is looking for reassurances that any new tax bandings would not unfairly penalise such motorists who previously chose diesel in good faith based upon advice from scientists and encouraged by the Government.
“On fuel, motorists in rural areas would welcome the continuation of the fuel discount scheme, although it is the case that this is not entirely within any UK government’s control. The RAC was pleased to see further locations benefit this year but there are many more remote communities that rely heavily on their vehicles, yet get stung with considerably higher fuel costs than those in our towns and cities.”
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RAC reaction to Chancellor’s 2015 Budget
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “Mr Osborne has clearly taken an opportunity to maintain the truce in the “war on motorists” whilst tying the hands of any new incumbent of No 11. Freezing fuel duty beyond the end of this Parliament is therefore a very shrewd move as it would be extremely unpopular for any future Chancellor to unfreeze it.
“Private motorists and businesses have benefitted considerably through both a cut and freeze in fuel duty in Mr Osborne’s time as chancellor. What we need now is a firm commitment from all political parties ahead of the election not to reverse his decision as soon as they take office as this would be a retrograde, harmful step that will lead to an increase in both household and business costs and dampen economic growth.
“We believe the duty freeze has made an important contribution to the economy and hope that any future chancellor will now understand its significance and therefore think twice before reverting to regular inflationary increases. The above inflation fuel duty escalator that operated between 1993 and 1999 is the primary reason, of course, that we now pay nearly 70 per cent in tax on every litre of fuel we buy at the pumps.
“While the Chancellor has cancelled September’s scheduled fuel duty increase we would ideally have liked to see him scrap the duty escalator altogether.”
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RAC comments on diesel car ‘demonisation’ campaign
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “Diesel engines are generally more efficient than their petrol equivalent, though the gap is closing. The selection of diesel vehicles by an increasing proportion of new car buyers in recent years has made a significant contribution to reducing carbon dioxide emissions and has also reduced fuel bills for their drivers.
"There is evidence that the previous generation of diesel emission standards (Euro 4 and 5) that have applied to new vehicles purchased since 2006 have not delivered all of the reduction in emissions of nitrogen dioxide and have not been as great as forecast, because the internationally agreed tests that the vehicles have to pass have not adequately reflected real world driving.
"These testing procedures are being addressed by the international standards community and there are no reasons to believe that the reductions in oxides of nitrogen associated with the new Euro 6 standard for diesel vehicles, which will apply to all new diesel vehicles from this September, will not be delivered.
“However, it would be wrong to penalise motorists retrospectively for choosing a diesel vehicle when they believed it to be the best choice from an environmental perspective because of its low carbon dioxide emissions. Motorists should therefore continue to select the vehicle type that best fits with their needs.”
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RAC comments on introduction of new drug driving offence
“The introduction of this new offence sends out a clear message to users of banned substances that driving while under the influence is not acceptable and can now be detected with drugalyser devices. However, it has the potential to affect hundreds of thousands of people who use certain drugs for medicinal purposes. Motorists should keep copies of their prescriptions on them at all times, and discuss the effect of their medication with a doctor. They should also consult the doctor if their prescription is impairing their ability to drive. Even if drugs you are routinely taking have never impaired your driving, if you’re over the new limit for a particular drug and are caught, you will fall foul of the offence. So the message is – don’t risk it, check it.”
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RAC warns motorists to prepare for an icy blast on the roads
Forecasters are predicting snow, blizzards and icy conditions for north England and Scotland
RAC spokesman Pete Williams said: "With extreme conditions forecast over the next 24-48 hours for the north of England and Scotland - motorists look set to experience an icy blast with high winds and blizzard conditions compounding the sub zero temperatures which could make driving treacherous.
"Drivers are advised to pay extra attention to their local weather forecast before heading out and be prepared to change their travel plans if road conditions take a turn for the worse. Monday morning may well prove challenging for people hoping for a trouble free commute. The RAC has increased patrol hours by 20% in anticipation of extra demand and we are expecting higher volumes of call-outs for battery related and electrical problems and the potential for some motorists to become stranded if snow begins to drift.
"As a rule of thumb drivers are advised to expect the worst and prepare for extreme weather and we hope that winter's latest blast won't catch you out."
"A little time spent giving your car some vital TLC ahead of a journey will be time well invested and could help save you hours and avoid a breakdown. Check your oil and coolant levels and that your tyres have a good depth of tread and are at the right pressures and then check your wiper blades are in good condition and that you have plenty of quality screen wash which can cope with temperatures down to -20 degrees or below."
"Before heading off on your journey allow your car time to warm up while you clear your windscreen and any snow on top of the roof. And take extra care when driving taking account of the road conditions, leaving plenty of space between your car and the vehilce in front and avoid sharp braking and acceleration."
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RAC warns 'buyers beware' - Watch out for fake RAC car buying website
The RAC is urging members and the public to be vigilant when looking to buy a new car online, as a fraudulent website has been set up by cyber-criminals attempting to steal personal details.
The site falsely claims to be the RAC’s car buying website and is illegally using official RAC logos in a bid to convince people and con them into giving over financial and vehicle details.
The illegal website address is www.rac-online.co.uk and should be avoided at all costs. Below is a screen grab of how the fake homepage looks:
The RAC is doing all it can to take down this illegal website but if you have entered details onto the site and feel concerned, please contact Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre.
Find them online at: www.actionfraud.police.uk/ or call direct on: 0300 123 2040.
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RAC comments on today’s launch of the UK driverless cars trials
RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “Today’s announcement is an important first step along the road to us seeing driverless cars become common place in the UK. But there is a significant way to go and the prospect of driverless vehicles entering service before the end of this decade looks ambitious.
“Motorists will need a lot of reassurance that the technology can be both reliable and safe enough to mean they are comfortable ceding control of a vehicle. This is before we have even started to consider important things like the impact on pedestrians and cyclists, or the implications on the insurance market.
“The Government would do well to produce a green paper or substantial weight of research that explains in detail the benefits to the public of the new technology, and a framework for its phased introduction beyond merely these trials. That way motorists could get a much clearer sense of what a driverless future could look like.”
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RAC responds to latest Great Britain road casualty statistics
RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: “It is alarming to see that years of progress on road safety appears to have come to an abrupt halt, with this increase going against the trend of falls in road fatalities and casualties for almost all of the last thirty years.
“Most worrying of all is that child fatalities and casualties are on the up for the first time since 1995 with the figures showing an increase in each quarter of 2014 over 2013 – the first time in 20 years that we have witnessed a year-on-year increase. Similarly the increase in deaths and serious injuries among cyclists, 8% up in the year to September 2014, is a trend we cannot ignore.
“The RAC has highlighted the lack of focus that the current government has shown to road safety, but this is surely the wake-up call that is needed to give the topic the attention and resources it deserves. The public will not accept complacency and we should not be satisfied until we reduce fatalities on UK roads to zero.
“In the run-up to the May election the RAC is calling on all parties to make road safety and road safety education a priority in their manifestos, and to address the urgent need to invest in high-profile campaigns to tackle some of the worst driving behaviours. This should include clearly placing road safety education on the national curriculum for school children, and for that matter for all road users.
“These worrying figures are also a reminder for this and the next government of the need to set national targets for reductions in road fatalities and serious accidents. There can no longer be any justification to resist setting these, and we know historically such targets has proved effective in helping to focus efforts and prioritise actions to reduce casualties.”
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RAC responds to proposed EC approval of new rural fuel tax cut
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “This announcement is a landmark moment for mainland rural communities which are the last to benefit from the record low fuel prices now widespread across much of the UK. Filling stations provide a crucial public service in more remote areas, and the plans to widen the Rural Fuel Rebate Scheme will help reduce prices closer to those enjoyed in other parts of the UK.
“People living and working in rural communities by their nature rely most heavily on their vehicle, so it’s right that they should not have to pay significantly more for fuel. At the same time, we would caution that rural motorists will probably never see fuel cost parity with urban areas. This is due to higher delivery costs and the fact that motorists in towns and cities tend to benefit from intense competition between supermarket and larger independent fuel retailers, who sell greater volumes.
“We now look to the other European member states to rapidly approve the scheme so that motorists can benefit from cheaper fuel without delay.”
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RAC responds to Prime Minister’s comments on falling fuel prices
RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Frankly, there is a danger that this sort of of-the-cuff comment will confuse motorists, who at the moment are enjoying price reductions at the pump on at least a weekly basis – the likes of which many people will not remember seeing before. It also risks raising unrealistic expectations among drivers of the extent to which prices can fall still further.
“In less than four months, average unleaded petrol prices have fallen 21p – a substantial drop of 16% and one that represents a reduction in the price of filling up an average family car of £11.55. The Government’s call for ‘further, faster’ cuts is therefore misleading.
“While there is no indication that oil production will be slowed to stabilise the barrel price, there is a limit to which further falls can benefit pump prices. The huge elephant in the room here is tax – we are at the point where fuel duty and VAT together represent 70% of what we pay when filling up. The fact is that £42 of a £60 fill up is tax - £32 duty and £10 VAT, with the cost of producing fuel, delivery and oil company and retailer margins accounting for just £18.
“The RAC closely monitors crude oil, wholesale and pump prices on behalf of motorists on a daily basis and would be happy to share data with Number 10 in order to highlight what is really going on with prices. We are committed to fighting for fuel price transparency and have kept on the back of retailers to ensure they pass on savings in wholesale prices as swiftly as possible. Motorists would also welcome clarity on their petrol receipts so they can see first-hand exactly what it is they pay for at the pump.
“We predicted at the start of December that we would see the price of petrol drop to £1 per litre, which has now happened in some places, and retailers up and down the country deserve recognition for their willingness to pass on these savings. So long as oil prices stay low, and the pound remains stable against the dollar, we could see competitive retailers reducing the price to nearer 95p per litre in the next few months.
“While there is a relationship between the crude oil price and the wholesale fuel price, it is not a direct relationship. Other factors influence the wholesale price, including the strength of the pound, since oil is traded in dollars. The pound has lost 7% against the dollar since October which has softened the impact of oil price drops on the wholesale price. This helps explain why the wholesale price of unleaded which every retailer pays has fallen by 19%, while crude oil prices have fallen 52% over this period.”
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Birmingham service station is first to cut the price of its petrol to 99.7p a litre
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “We have been expecting to see the price of petrol come down to £1 per litre, or lower, for some time thanks to the decline in global oil price and retailers willing to make cuts at the pump on an almost weekly basis.
“While the average is around the 109p mark, we have seen a number of retailers going as low as 104p in recent days, but 99p per litre is the lowest we’re aware of and it is hard to see how they can be making a profit as the cost of wholesale fuel needs to come down at the same time.
“However this is of course more good news for motorists in that area who will benefit from the kind of prices not seen for more than five years. It is usually the supermarkets that lead the way on price cuts this deep, so perhaps this will encourage them to make a similar move, but our feeling is it may be a while yet before others follow suit and go below a £1 per litre, although it may well happen over the next few weeks.”
Harvest Energy has cut its petrol price to 99.7p for litre at three forecourts in Walsall, Redditch and Birmingham. The move appears to have prompted another round of price cutting with Asda knocking a further 2p off the price of its petrol and diesel. The latest reduction means that Asda customers will pay no more than 103.7p a litre on petrol, with diesel at 110.7p a litre from tomorrow.
Williams said: ”We are seeing bold action by fuel price champions to driving down the retail price of petrol and diesel which is prompting other retailers and supermarkets to cut their prices and share the savings with motorists. While some retailers are slower to cut prices all motorists whether urban, city or rural will benefit from the ripple effect as prices reductions are inevitable in the face of such strong price competition.
“However we are now getting to a point where the share that the Treasury takes from the forecourt price is nearing 75% which is a bitter pill for motorists and retailers.
“We would welcome some bold thinking by this Government and the other political parties as the election looms as to how they can capitalise on the stimulus that lower fuel and oil prices can have on the UK economy while improving fairness and transparency for private and business road users. We should perhaps be seeking a commitment from all the major political parties that they will not look to increase fuel duty in the next parliament.”
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RAC welcomes roads investment strategy as a victory for common sense
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “Today’s announcement is to be applauded as a victory for common sense and a clear blueprint for investment in England’s strategic road network which will deliver long-term benefits for all road users and for the UK economy.
“The strategy is primarily aimed at improving the existing network with only a small minority of schemes involving new routes and in this way, environmental impact is minimized. The announcement of 127 high-grade projects across England including 400 additional miles of Smart motorway and the upgrading of major stretches of the most heavily used A-routes to ‘Expressway’ status is great news. This will deliver significant improvements to journey times, reliability and user experience for businesses, commuters and family motorists.
“The challenge for the vast majority of road users who will benefit from these schemes is to secure the commitment of the next government, to ensure that that they are delivered on time and within budget and that the strategy does not become just another set of empty promises.
“Another concern for motorists must be that without matching the investment in the strategic network by an equally bold investment in local roads, strategic roads could become ‘roads to nowhere’. With current pressure on budgets, local authorities cannot afford to deal with the £12 billion backlog in road maintenance and greater support from central government is essential.
“Local roads account for 97% of the road network and most journeys start and end on them and their maintenance is the number one transport spending priority for a majority of motorists, who contribute over £40 billion to the Treasury from motoring taxes every year.”
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RAC responds to Danny Alexander’s call for lower fuel prices
Pete Williams RAC head of external affairs said: “We welcome today’s call from Danny Alexander for lower fuel pump prices for motorists. There is certainly scope for a further three to four pence cut in the price of petrol at the pumps passing on the savings that retailers are seeing as wholesale prices drop as world crude prices plummet.
“However it is very important to remember that of the price we pay at the pump 21 pence is VAT and 58 pence is Duty so the Treasury is benefitting to the tune of 80 pence for every litre bought. The remaining 40 to 50 pence is the proportion that can fluctuate according to the pound versus dollar oil price and retailer’s margin. On the face of it the retailers generally pass on the savings but we would like to see this happen faster. It is not necessarily fair to point the finger at the refineries as the majority of them work on fixed margins.
“We welcome the move today by some fuel retailers to cut the price at the pump and hope others will follow suit swiftly. Motorists will be delighted to see the price of unleaded dropping below £1.20 for the first time in four years but the RAC is calling for a further 4p cut in unleaded and 2p cut in the price of diesel to be fair to motorists.”
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Investment key to easing congestion on UK’s road network
The costs of traffic congestion are forecast to rise faster in the UK than in France, Germany and the US, with Londoners particularly badly affected, according to research published on Tuesday.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research and Inrix, a traffic information provider, found that the cost of congestion to the London economy was $8.5bn in 2013, and would rise to $14.5bn in 2030. The cumulative cost over that period would be more than $200bn.
RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “A strong economy requires a strong infrastructure to support it and the UK’s road network is obviously a vital part of that infrastructure supporting some 304 billion vehicle miles a year.
“Everybody who drives, for pleasure or business, is well aware of the scale of congestion on our roads, and the issue is the volume of traffic negotiating parts of the network which are simply outdated and unable to cope.
“The Mayor of London announced a £4bn programme of investment in the capital’s road network earlier this year, which alongside the Government’s promised £28bn investment in England’s roads as part of its Action for Roads, should make a significant impact on congestion.
“In addition the Highways Agency’s £317million pinch point programme across England should also work to improve some of the worst bottlenecks causing congestion and costing businesses every day.
“By delivering smaller scale improvements to these roads it is hoped congestion will be relieved which will in turn improve road safety and provide a welcome boost to the economy.
“It is clearly good news for motorists that nearly half of these schemes have already been completed as we know traffic congestion is a concern for 21% of motorists surveyed in the RAC’s Report on Motoring 2014 – a 3% increase on the 2013 figure of 18%. It was the top concern for 6% of drivers.”
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RAC welcomes latest fall in fuel prices
The cost of filling up at the forecourt has dropped again with three supermarkets cuttings the price of a litre due a fall in oil prices.
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams: “This great news for motorists and continues the downward trend of lower fuel prices the country has been enjoying this year. Motorists always used to say that pump prices never came down as fast as they went up but retailers are clearly demonstrating that this is no longer the case.
“The lower prices to date have been very much a result of the pound’s strength against the dollar, but this latest cut is a product of the price of oil falling globally. Motorists buying at the cheapest forecourts will now be paying seven pence a litre less for petrol and 11p less for diesel than they were at the start of the year. On an average family-sized car this translates to a saving of nearly £4 for a tank of petrol and over £6 for a tank of diesel.
“This is an unprecedented price reduction but one which should make a massive difference to people’s pockets as well as to the wider economy. Long may it continue.”
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Government launches new country roads safety campaign
THINK! is launching a new campaign to warn drivers of the dangers of country roads.
Department for Transport figures reveal that 60% of people killed on Britain’s roads die on rural roads, and new research shows many more drivers are needlessly putting themselves at risk of an accident.
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “It is good to see the Government focussing on reducing casualties on rural roads as too many lives are being lost on them each year. With many country roads carrying speed limits of 50 mph or 60 mph there is a real temptation for motorists to drive at the limit because they are technically allowed to do so, even if it is inappropriate because of the driving conditions or local hazards. However, you can never know what danger is looming around the next bend.
“The new THINK! campaign highlights this danger in a very powerful way which we are hopeful will help reinforce the message with motorists and lead to them slowing down and taking greater care in the future.
“RAC research shows that 43% of motorists admit to breaking the speed 50mph and 60mph limits on country roads with 8% saying they do so frequently.”
For more information visit: http://think.direct.gov.uk/country-roads.html
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Sainsbury’s cuts 5p off fuel
Sainsbury's has sparked a likely supermarket fuel-price war by slashing up to 5p a litre off the cost of its petrol and diesel. The new prices will take effect from tomorrow at all the company's 294 forecourts.
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “The wholesale price of both petrol and diesel has been low for around three months and as a result motorists have been enjoying some the cheapest prices for over three years, but this cut will take us to new low, the likes of which we haven’t seen since late 2010, early 2011 when the price of petrol and diesel unfortunately jumped by 10p a litre in just a few months.
“Since the Scottish referendum the pound has rallied against the dollar which has created a much-appreciated downward pressure on fuel prices which are traded in dollars. It’s great news for motorists that this is being swiftly passed on by responsible retailers at the pumps as this helps to ease the cost of motoring for all and at the same time provide a welcome boost to small and big businesses alike.”
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Lorry speed limit on single carriageway roads to be increased
The speed limit for lorries on single carriageway main roads in England and Wales will rise from 40mph to 50mph, it has been announced by the Government.
The move, affecting heavy goods vehicles weighing more than 7.5 tonnes, will come into force in early 2015.
RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams says: “While it may seem counterintuitive on the face of it to suggest higher speeds create safer roads, there is good evidence from trials in Europe to support the idea that raising speed limits on some roads has helped to reduce accident rates.
“A two-year trial in Denmark has seen speed limits on some rural roads increased from 80km/h (50mph) to 90km/h (56mph). Results there showed that some slower drivers raised their speed slightly, while faster drivers slowed down.
“Although average speeds on the roads remained almost the same, the smaller difference between faster and slower traffic resulted in fewer collisions and fewer deaths, according to police findings.
“They said the move has helped reduce frustration among faster drivers, and stopped them from performing dangerous overtaking manoeuvres.
“The Danish study may well prove to be ground-breaking in years to come but what's needed now are more studies to establish whether this reduction occurs in all instances.”
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RAC response to supermarkets cutting price of its petrol and its diesel by up to 2p a litre
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “The combination of the strengthening pound and the fact that tensions in both Ukraine and Iraq have not caused supply issues means wholesale prices have begun to ease. But falling wholesale prices don’t always lead to cheaper forecourt prices so it’s good news for motorists that this reduction is being passed on so quickly at the pumps. Cheaper fuel is good for individual motorists, businesses and the economy.
“The impact of the shale oil extraction in the US is also causing global oil prices to reduce due to more product becoming available in the market which in turn reduces reliance on importing oil from the Middle East.”
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RAC response to DfT proposals to find alternatives to a mandatory 60mph limit on M1 and M3
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “This is good news all round. Motorists will be very pleased that the schemes to introduce additional capacity on sections of the M1 and M3 are to go ahead shortly.
“Following the landmark announcement in early January about proposals for a reduced speed limit of 60mph during substantial parts of the working day on these stretches of motorway in order to protect air quality in the area, we were concerned that other similar limits might be necessary as more ‘smart motorway’ hard shoulder-running schemes are introduced. It is therefore good news that the Secretary of State for Transport has listened to road users and recognised that a 60mph limit on these stretches of the M1 and M3 is the thin end of the wedge.
“The Government has heavily invested in the smart motorway concept so imposition of 60mph limits on these stretches at times when congestion is not at a level to justify a reduced speed limits would have undermined the benefits for road users. However, we also should be mindful that a solution that does not breach air quality limits and keeps traffic moving at 70mph may not be achievable. Let’s hope for the sake of motorists and businesses alike that it is.”
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RAC predicts 2ppl rise in price of fuel following escalating violence in Iraq
As issues in Iraq escalate with reports that the oil city of Kirkuk has been seized, this has impacted on oil wholesale costs and the RAC now anticipates a 2ppl rise over the coming weeks.
RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: “The worsening situation in Iraq is causing a knee-jerk reaction in the global fuel market with wholesale prices going up one pence over Wednesday and Thursday. This uncertainty is being made worse as the warring factions advance on some of the oil facilities, particularly the oil city of Kirkuk. We anticipate that it is likely to push the pump price of both petrol and diesel by 2ppl in the short-term and this could well go much further.
“After a period of relative stability and a welcome drop in the cost differential for diesel, this once again demonstrates how UK motorists and businesses are at the mercy of world events and the volatile nature of the global fuel market.”
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RAC responds to Government plans to quadruple speeding fines
The Government has announced plans for speeding fines to rise from £2,5000 to £10,000 and for fines for use of mobile phones while driving to increase from £1,000 to £4,000.
Pete Williams, head of external affairs at the RAC, said: “What we’re seeing is an ever-increasing level of fines and penalties for motorists coming out of Whitehall with little-to-no improvement in how these are enforced. While legislation clearly needs to act as a deterrent, there seems little point in making such massive hikes without the proper infrastructure to back it up.
“Many motorists who do speed or use their mobile at the wheel don’t think they will get caught despite the already significant fines. When will we hear the Government is investing in better road safety awareness campaigns and police on the roads, rather than just doling out what looks like revenue-boosting punishment?”
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Cost of bringing roads up to standard increases to £12bn
The Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance survey published today by the Asphalt Industry Alliance estimates it would cost £12 billion to get the local road network in England and Wales back into reasonable condition, an increase of £1.5bn from the previous year.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “It’s no great surprise that the figure to get our roads in order has gone up. If you don’t resurface roads properly at regular intervals and reconstruct them when they reach the end of their design lives you end up with roads riddled with potholes, endangering lives and costing motorists millions in vehicle repairs. Patching, while necessary for safety reasons, is nothing more than a short-term solution that will ultimately cost the taxpayer more money.
“It’s extremely worrying there is such a large disparity between the Asphalt Industry Alliance’s £12bn estimate to bring roads up to standard in one fell swoop and the average amount of just under £1bn the Department for Transport plans to spend on local road maintenance in England, outside of London, until 2021.
“We find ourselves in this position despite the Government giving £3 billion to local authorities in England, outside London, from 2011 to 2015 for highways maintenance. More recently £140m was made available to repair weather-damaged roads and an extra £200m pothole fund was announced in the Budget.
“In isolation these additional pots of funding appear large, but in reality each is less than 2% of the money required to make our roads fit for purpose, especially when you consider that some roads have actually reached the end of their design lives. In these cases no amount of resurfacing or pothole repairs will make a difference as the real faults lie well below the surface in the construction of the road itself.
“The question on every motorist’s lips must surely be: are the authorities using this money as effectively as they can to avoid future problems? What we need is long-term, financially prudent resurfacing and road reconstruction, not short-term costly, desperate patching.”
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Road accident reduction targets needed, says RAC
Deaths and serious injuries on the roads are likely to cost society £110 billion in the years to 2030, according to a report commissioned by the Parliamentary Advisory Committee for Transport Safety.
The total of those killed or seriously injured (KSIs) over this period is expected to be around a third of a million. These huge figures are expected despite the report predicting a dip in KSIs (killed or seriously injuries) and slight injuries by 2030 compared with figures for 2012.
Deaths are likely to reduce from a figure of 1,754 in 2012 to around 1,000 a year by 2030, with serious injuries falling from 23,029 in 2012 to about 11,000 in 2030. Slight injuries are forecast to fall from 170,930 in 2012 to about 150,000 by 2030.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “While road deaths are currently at their lowest ever levels, overall casualty statistics have been a little up and down in recent years after many years of steady decline.
“What’s needed now is for the Government to return to setting national targets for reductions in road fatalities and serious accidents. For some reason the current government has been reluctant to set targets, but we know historically this has always proved successful in reducing casualties.
“As a society we must ensure all stakeholders work together to sustain casualty reduction and national targets are a great way of galvanising efforts towards a common goal. This way we can take road casualty numbers to the lowest possible figures.
The RAC, in conjunction with the Department for Transport, has just launched a national child road safety campaign based around a 21st century road safety mascot created by Aardman Animations with the aim of putting an end to child road accidents.
In 2012 a total of 6,999 child pedestrians under the age of 16 were injured on British roads. Sadly, 20 of these lost their lives and a further 13 child cyclists died and 2,185 were injured in accidents. Roads are significantly safer than they were 30 years ago, however a total of 190,689s children under the age of 16 were killed or seriously injured on British roads during the period 1983 to 2012.
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RAC response to 2014 Budget
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivered his fifth Budget today announcing there would be no planned fuel duty increase in September and a £200m fund to help local authorities repair potholed roads.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “George Osborne is one of the few chancellors who has actually reduced fuel duty by cutting a penny off in the 2011 Budget instead of just putting it up like most of his predecessors, and we had hoped he would see the wisdom in doing so again, but sadly that hasn’t happened.
“While keeping duty the same will prevent the hardship motorists already feel from high fuel prices getting any worse, a cut was needed to reverse this punitive charge which is effectively a tax on virtually every British business that uses vehicles as well as daily living as the vast majority of people rely on vehicles for work and everyday life.
“Along with the FairFuelUK campaign we wanted to see a radical and much-needed 3p a litre cut in fuel duty as we believe this would do far more good for the economy than simply freezing it. The economic benefits of a fuel duty cut have been clearly demonstrated in reports produced Centre for Economics and Business Research as well as the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
“We can only hope Mr Osborne is saving the best news for the autumn in the form of a vote-winning duty cut ahead of next year’s election.”
“An extra £200m – if indeed this is new money – for councils to apply for to repair our pothole-ridden roads is a step in the right direction, but in reality it is probably not enough to bring our roads back up to the standard that every motorist has the right to expect. We need whole stretches of road to be resurfaced regularly rather than just patching them when they start to fall apart, costing taxpayers more and more money every year. Simply filling potholes is a massive false economy which has now unfortunately become necessity. We really need to put an end to this by making sure roads are never allowed to degenerate to the point where potholes develop.”
“Legislating to give the Welsh Government new tax and borrowing powers to fund infrastructure and start work on improving the M4 in South Wales is welcome news as is a £270m guarantee for the Mersey Gateway Bridge.”
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London council uses CCTV to capture moving traffic offences
The London borough of Redbridge announced today that it is using the first unattended CCTV enforcement system to capture moving traffic offences.
Drivers making banned turns or illegally using yellow-box junctions are liable to be caught out by remote cameras in the pioneering initiative by the east London borough council.
RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: “It is very worrying to hear mention of a phrase like ‘will deliver a higher return on investment’ in association with a new type of moving traffic offence enforcement camera as it automatically makes you think the council is investing to make money rather than to change driver behaviour.
“Common sense needs to be applied with a new system like this to avoid creating a situation similar to Clapham’s ‘money box junction’ where a camera has been positioned in a place where there are clearly issues with the design and layout of the road which leads to motorists repeatedly being caught out.
“If drivers are blatantly ignoring signage then something needs to be done, but fairness should be key in the use of cameras like these. It is encouraging, however, to hear that footage will be reviewed before penalty charge notices are issued as this will hopefully prevent some accidental driver errors being unfairly penalised.”
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M3 reduced speed limit to preserve air quality
The Highways Agency is proposing to introduce a 60mph limit on a three-mile section only of the M3 from Junction 3 at Lightwater to Junction 4 near Farnborough between 7am-7pm. The speed limit reduction is required due to the increase in capacity on the M3 from the planned Smart Motorway scheme as emissions from extra traffic will exceed local air quality limits on a short section of the route, unless that section is limited to 60pmh for some of the 24-hour period.
The speed restriction is simply to bring air quality into legal limits and the Highways Agency expects to be able to remove it within four years (2019) of the scheme opening to traffic.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “Given the landmark announcement in early January about a reduced speed limit of 60mph on a 32-mile stretch of the M1 in order to protect air quality in the area, this should really not come as a surprise.
“It does, however, come hot on the heels of the first announcement and invites the question as to whether any of the eight other planned all-lane running, smart motorway schemes which the Government have heavily invested in will also need to have reduced speed limits put in place to protect air quality?
“News that the restriction should lead to higher average traffic speeds on this stretch is something of a consolation for commuters, but others who travel outside of peak times will no doubt wonder why they can’t drive at 70mph on a clear motorway.”
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Concerns new ‘green’ fuel could be costly and harmful
A new ‘green’ fuel to be introduced in the UK to meet EU regulations could be costly and harmful, according to tests carried out by What Car?
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “The European Directive is clearly well-intentioned, but it is both surprising and worrying that What Car has found in tests that carbon dioxide emissions actually increased and fuel economy fell by as much as 10% on vehicles using E10. If these results were borne out by larger scale testing, it would raise questions as to whether there is sufficient environmental benefits to justify the switch to higher biofuel content petrol.
“Less well-off motorists are still finding it very difficult to find the money to pay for the fuel for even the most essential journeys and the Government has recognised this by freezing fuel duty to the end of this parliament. If motorists are required to use a less efficient fuel then Government should be considering reducing the fuel duty on E10 to offset any reduction in fuel economy.
“Other concerns for drivers of vehicles made prior to 2002 using E10 have also been reported. These are associated with possible damage that can be caused by bioethanol’s corrosive properties which can lead to damaged seals, plastics and metals. There have also been reports that E10 is a less stable fuel and that this can make it more difficult to start a vehicle that has not been driven for an extended period.”
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Road fatalities and serious injuries fall by 6% in Q3 2013
The number of killed or seriously injured casualties fell to 23,380, a 6% decrease compared with the previous year, according to provisional quarterly Department for Transport Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain estimates published today.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “Despite traffic volumes increasing slightly both road accidents and casualties have dropped substantially in the 12 months to September 2013. The 7% drop in accidents of all severities meant there were 13,690 fewer casualties which is a significant number and a welcome continuation of the overall downward trend in the figures.
“However, the 8% quarter-on-quarter rise in cyclist casualties is very worrying, and together with the number of fatalities which occurred in London before Christmas will no doubt make for difficult reading when the full year statistics are published. This re-emphasises the need to maintain momentum on initiatives to ensure the safety of the ever-increasing number of people taking to two wheels.”
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Supermarkets cut 2p a litre off fuel price
Asda and Tesco have today announced 2p a litre reductions in the price of both petrol and diesel which takes a litre down to 126.7p and 133.7p respectively.
RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams says: “The supermarkets are helping to brighten up January by knocking 2p a litre off petrol and diesel in reaction to falling wholesale prices.
“Average prices will now start to move downwards again across the country which will ease the burden on motorists. If they were to fall to within just 2p of this new supermarket price then we could see petrol coming down to 128p a litre and diesel to 135p which would be the lowest prices we have seen on forecourts since February 2011. This will no doubt have a positive effect on the economy too as well as lessening the social impact that high fuel prices have on people’s personal lives.”
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New car sales roar to a six-year high
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has today announced that new car sales are up 10.8% on the 2012 figures, the best annual total since the pre-recession year of 2007.
RAC Cars chairman Rupert Keane said: “It’s encouraging to see the new car market ending 2013 on such a high and it has to be a positive indicator for broader economic recovery and consumer confidence in the UK. It is also heartening that a significant proportion were produced in the UK.
“Technological advances have played a huge role in driving new car sales to a six year high but many motorists have also resisted the temptation to invest in a newer model during the period of economic uncertainty. This has also had a positive effect on the used car market. We have seen a significant increase in the volume, quality and range of used vehicles coming to the market via our dealer network which can be accessed via our raccars.co.uk website where we currently have over 90,000 vehicles available.”
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Transport for London announce plan to increase congestion charge by 15%
Transport for London is consulting on increasing the standard daily charge from £10 to £11.50 which they say will generate an estimated £84 million of additional revenue by the end of 2017/18.
RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: “A 15% increase in the congestion charge will significantly impact London motorists who already pay heavily for using their cars in the capital. At the current rate of £10 per vehicle per day the charge already acts as a deterrent to unnecessary journeys and this will be seen as just another way to extract cash from hard-pressed motorists.
“The charge has not increased since 2011 but then it jumped 25% from £8 to £10 which begs the question do motorists not deserve a more measured approach to increases? This is an above-inflation hike which will be felt more by those on lower incomes who are often more reliant on their cars for work and family life. This will also have a significant effect on small businesses which have no option but to drive into the capital.”
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Section of M1 may have reduced speed limit to improve air quality
The Highways Agency has today announced a proposal to permanently reduce the speed limit to 60mph on a section of M1 from junctions 28 to 31 and 32 to 35a to improve air quality.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “This is a landmark proposal as to the best of our knowledge motorway speed limits have not previously been lowered in order to comply with environmental legislation. If this becomes reality for the 32-mile stretch of the M1, which seems highly likely, it would certainly negate some of the benefits of operating this section as a ‘smart’ motorway where motorists are allowed to use the hard shoulder to reduce congestion.
“More worryingly, it could pave the way for similar restrictions on other sections of motorway. While preserving air quality is obviously a paramount concern there will inevitably be a negative impact on business efficiency and individual mobility.
“This very powerfully demonstrates the impact that speed has on emissions and many will be surprised to hear that a reduction of just 10mph can have such a significant effect on improving air quality.
“The motor industry has been working hard to improve the environmental credentials of vehicles but we know that it takes time for these benefits to filter through to the whole UK vehicle parc as we know the average car on the road is seven years old. Perhaps the Government should be considering reintroduction of incentives to scrap older high polluting vehicles to minimise the need for speed restrictions of the type proposed.”
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RAC urges motorists not to start the working year on a flat
With vehicles lying idle during the Christmas festivities and the continuing stormy weather causing problems for motorists, the RAC predicts this Thursday (Jan 2) will be one of the busiest mornings of the year for breakdowns as millions of people return to work.
In fact, the RAC is expecting in the region of 11,000 breakdowns – 40% more than a normal January day – as motorists begrudgingly force themselves out of the front door to work only to find a their car won’t start.
The return-to-work day is traditionally the busiest day of the year for flat batteries. On 2 January 2013 a quarter of all RAC call-outs were for battery-related issues.
And, as persistent rain continues to result in flood warnings, particularly in the South West and South East of England, the RAC has recommended motorists not to risk driving through deep standing water and to check local weather alerts and flood warnings before embarking on their journey.
RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: “The weather is continuing to cause problems – already in the worst hit areas over Monday Dec 30 and New Year’s Eve, we’ve seen around 20% increase in demand with exhausted batteries and electrical faults topping the list of breakdown faults.
“We are urging all motorists to ensure their return to work is as stress-free as possible, so if you have not moved your car in the past week give it a short run of at least five miles to test your battery and to give it a boost before you have to use it for work. And give your car the once over - checking the oil, coolant and water levels, tyre pressures and tread, and make sure the windscreen wipers are doing their job or replace them.
“But don’t be tempted to drive through any deep standing water as, in a worse-case scenario, this can cause serious engine damage and a very costly start to the year in paying for the repairs.”
Extensive driving advice for adverse weather conditions can be found on our Winter Driving Advice pages on rac.co.uk.
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RAC response to postponement of Government Green Paper on Young Driver Safety
The RAC’s Technical Director David Bizley said: “While the issues surrounding young drivers are indeed emotive and varied, it is essential not to lose sight of the fact that they are still the most likely group of drivers to be seriously injured or killed on the roads. Young drivers aged under 25 make up 25% of all those drivers killed or seriously injured on the road network, but account for only 8% of licence holders. They also drive, on average, less than half as far as those aged over 25. This is a problem that needs to be addressed urgently.
“Our research shows that young drivers are willing to consider extra training and many admit to feeling nervous and anxious about driving at night, on motorways and in adverse weather. They also pay the price for their relatively high safety risk in very high insurance premiums.
“It is, therefore, unfortunate that there has been a further delay to the green paper which was originally scheduled for publication this summer. We want to see concerted action from Government, insurers and other stakeholder groups to address a problem that is a top priority for improving safety on our roads.”
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RAC Response to 2013 Autumn Statement
Fuel Duty to Remain Frozen
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “While freezing fuel duty is welcome we wanted Mr Osborne to go a step further and reduce the financially punishing 58p duty that is charged on every litre of fuel bought at the pump.
“A cut to fuel duty would have been far more meaningful and beneficial to motorists and the economy. The RAC believes a bold move like this would actually act as a further stimulus for the economy by making it more affordable for companies to do business and for motorists to use their vehicles for work and social purposes.
“Motorists have been benefitting from cheaper prices at the pumps in recent months as retailers have passed on savings in the lower wholesale price brought about by lower oil prices and a stronger pound, coincidentally at the same time as the economy has been improving.
“If the Chancellor had actually cut fuel duty any shortfall in revenue would have been largely offset by increased revenues arising from the growth stimulated by the reduction.”
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Channel Tunnel anniversary
Bon anniversaire au tunnel sous la Manche - happy birthday to the Channel Tunnel! Though it was officially opened by The Queen on 9th May 1994, passenger service didn't open until 14th November 1994, so let's celebrate the 19th anniversary of this tremendous feat of engineering with some fun facts:
24 miles of the 31.35 mile long Channel Tunnel are underwater
The Channel Tunnel is actually three tunnels - two for the trains and a smaller one in the middle for a service tunnel
The train tunnels are 24 feet in diameter
In 2012 1,464,880 trucks, 2,424,342 cars, 58,966 coaches, 9,911,649 passengers and 2,325 rail freight trains travelled through the tunnels!
Rabies cannot travel through the tunnel - special design elements were added to ensure the UK - rabies-free since 1902 - could not get infected
If you type tunnel enough times it looks like a nonsense word!
The Tunnel Manche has its own Twitter account, but it's in French so je suis désolée mais je ne comprends pas
RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “It’s hard to imagine life before the Channel Tunnel and it’s even harder to believe that 19 years have passed since it first opened. As the statistics show, motorists have clearly enjoyed the extra freedom of being able to take their vehicles to Europe without having to use a ferry.
“Anyone planning to use the tunnel this autumn or winter should make sure they are fully prepared for their European journey by taking out RAC European Breakdown cover so they are protected should some kind of unexpected roadside incident occur.”
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Roads investment to create 9,500 jobs
Over 9,500 construction jobs will be supported in 2014 by more than £1.9 billion of investment in Britain’s roads, Transport Minister Robert Goodwill announced today.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “The nation’s roads are intrinsically linked to the economy. The more that is done to improve the network, the easier it is for companies to do business and for motorists to get to work and spend money as consumers. The significance of our roads was made even more apparent earlier this year when second quarter traffic statistics showed a 4.9% increase in motorway traffic at the same time as GDP grew.
“The jobs that are being created to carry out these large-scale improvements are a massive benefit to the economy, but it is important to remember that while the strategic road network carries a third of all traffic, it only represents 2% of all roads. Investment in local roads is therefore vital as excellent main ‘road’ arteries will have far less effect if they feed clogged ‘local’ veins which are not fit to handle today’s traffic volumes. In fairness to the Government, they are looking to address many local pinch points, but we hope this is extensive enough to make a real difference to day-to-day journeys.”
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Fuel retailers move to reduce forecourt prices
Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Tesco have all announced reductions in the price of petrol and diesel with effect from tomorrow. Asda led the cuts by reducing petrol to 126.7p a litre and diesel to 133.7p as of Wednesday 30 October.
RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: "Motorists should be pleased that fuel retailers have acted so swiftly in lowering prices at the pumps following a reduction in wholesale prices. The wholesale price of petrol is now at a year-low of around one pound a litre whereas the diesel price is unfortunately still several pence a litre away from its low point in early May (104.87p).
"The RAC began calling for lower fuel prices in mid-September when wholesale fuel prices began to fall. Fuel retailers responded by taking 6p off petrol and 4p off diesel, demonstrating industry transparency. The new cuts will hopefully bring average petrol prices down to around 129p a litre and diesel to 137p a litre in the next few weeks.
"Motorists are telling us that they are struggling to make ends meet so every penny saved at the pump will help families meet the spiralling household bills at a time when they are starting to think ahead to Christmas."
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RAC Advise motorists to avoid all non-essential journeys
RAC spokesman Pete Williams said: “With a potential Met Office red alert for Bristol and hurricane force winds accompanied by torrential rain expected in the south west between 1am and 6am the RAC is advising motorists to avoid any unnecessary travel and if possible delay essential journeys until weather conditions improve.
“We’ve boosted our patrol support numbers by 20% to meet additional demand and anticipate it will be incredibly difficult on the roads tomorrow morning with a big risk of flooding and fallen trees.
“We are urging motorists to use the window of opportunity today to check their windscreen wipers and to ensure that their tyres have adequate depth of tread and are at the correct pressure. It is also worth checking your oil, and coolant levels and to top-up the windscreen wash and it may be worth filling-up with fuel if you have a long journey.
“It would also be worth checking the RAC’s winter driving advice. Visit rac.co.uk to read our section on driving in high winds and heavy rain, the RAC Route Planner also has up to the minute traffic news and live weather.
“Remember in heavy rain to use dipped headlights, reduce your speed and leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front. In high winds you should take extra care when crossing high ground and bridges and especially when over taking lorries and look out for debris in the road.
“Be very wary if you have to drive through flood water. Reduce your speed significantly and avoid creating a bow wave. Modern vehicles are very reliable but they are not waterproof - deep flood water can be drawn into the engine causing catastrophic damage. And do not drive into fast flowing water.”
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Government bid to cut driving costs
Plans designed to reduce petrol prices at motorway service stations and a freeze on the cost of the MoT test have been announced by the Government.
A crackdown on whiplash injury fraud is also part of the driver-friendly package to be introduced from next year.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: "Running a car is, for many, the highest cost in the household budget alongside housing and, particularly in this economic climate, a crackdown on those who are wilfully cheating the system through fraudulent claims will be welcomed by the vast majority of motorists. "
He added: " The RAC has been calling for an end to inflated prices at motorway service stations and the new measures should help to address this problem by stimulating greater competition.
"While we are pleased to see this as part of the new proposals, we urge the Government to go much further in helping cash-strapped motorists by reducing fuel duty on all forecourts."
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Remote areas may get rural fuel discount
Pete Williams, RAC head of external affairs, said: “The Government’s application to the EU to extend the rural fuel discount scheme is good news for motorists living in these 10 communities. It’s wrong that they are currently being unfairly penalised by high fuel prices as they rely on their cars for work and day-to-day life. It’s also understandable that fuel retailers in these remote areas are selling petrol and diesel at higher prices due to increased distribution costs from being so far from refineries. Let’s hope the European Commission will see the sense in easing the pain for these rural towns when they come to make their decision next year.”
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Government commissioned report proposes new restrictions on novice drivers
The Transport Research Laboratory has today published findings and proposals about novice drivers that could cut accident road casualties by more than 4,000 a year.
RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: “We have reached the point where we have no choice but to do something different with novice drivers in order to significantly cut the number of deaths and serious injuries they are involved in.
“The RAC has for some time been calling for a reform of driving education for young people and the introduction of graduated driving licences with a minimum supervised learning period and restrictions on the number of passengers permitted in the car so this is a very positive step towards preventing the loss of young lives on our roads.
“The experiences of other countries where graduated driver licensing is used clearly show that it has been successful in reducing the number of collisions involving young drivers, but in order for it to be as effective as possible it has to be part of an overall package of measures including more extensive driver education.
“The RAC Report on Motoring 2013, which surveyed 1,500 drivers of all ages, found that 53% of young drivers would have liked supervised driving practice on the motorway as part of learning to drive and 45% would have liked to learn more about safe driving at school.
“While we welcome the proposals it is surprising that the technology solution provided by insurance telematics devices that can monitor driving behaviour of young drivers have not been included as they have the power to inform insurers of issues such as excessive speeding which can then be quickly addressed before it’s too late.”
“The Report on Motoring also showed 35% of young drivers felt the standard driving test does not cover all the skills required to cope with the demands of driving today.”
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‘Ghost brokers’ target young drivers
Police across the UK have today carried out dawn raids cracking down on ‘ghost brokers’ selling fake car insurance policies. A total of 27 people have been arrested following months of investigations by the City of London Police Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department.
RAC director of insurance services Kerry Michael said: “This is a new and worrying crime which preys on young drivers offering them cheap insurance rates with bogus policies. It is particularly worrying when you consider that many of the individuals taken in by ‘ghost brokers’ are those who can least afford the devastating financial and personal consequences of being involved in an accident without valid insurance.
“Whenever considering cover buyers are best advised to choose a reputable motor insurer and to ensure they check all of their paperwork. If a deal sounds too good to be true then it probably is.
“The RAC’s Report on Motoring 2013 identified that 71% of drivers aged 17 to 24 believe that motoring may actually become a rare luxury for them if costs continue to escalate. We are looking at ways to reduce the cost of insurance for young drivers including solutions like low cost telematics and we are working with the Government to understand what can be done to make owning and operating a car more affordable for this group of motorists.”
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Chancellor wants to freeze fuel duty until end of this Parliament
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne today told Conservative Party conference that he intends to freeze fuel duty until the end of the Parliament.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “The Chancellor’s intention to extend the freeze on fuel duty is welcome, but it’s time for the Government to consider a more radical overhaul of the motoring taxation regime so that fuel poverty becomes a distant memory for those in our society with low income but still have a high dependence on their vehicles.”
“There is, in fact, good evidence that the Treasury coffers would benefit more if he were to reverse the trend and cut fuel duty for struggling motorists.
“Year on year, receipts from petrol and diesel have begun to slowly decline since 2010 when the coalition was formed. Combined petrol and diesel consumption has fallen 6.6% from 48.3bn litres in 2008 to 45.1bn litres in 2012 while fuel duty revenue actually increased by £2bn (£24.1bn to £26.1bn – an 8% increase) due to duty increases of more than 7p a litre in that period.
“The numbers are a clear illustration of the dilemma in which the Government finds itself. The recession has taken its toll over the last five years and this, combined with motorists driving more fuel efficient, environmentally-friendly vehicles means that Government would need to increase fuel duty at above the rate of inflation, just to maintain tax revenues from fuel.
“Many motorists are suffering genuine hardship as a result of the cost of fuel for essential journeys to the shops, to work and to support their families so fuel duty can no longer be treated by the Treasury as a cash cow.”
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April to June 2013 traffic increases
Department for Transport provisional statistics show a rise in road traffic for April to June 2013 with traffic increasing by 2.9% to 76.8bn vehicle miles compared to the previous year. Motorway traffic showed a 4.9% rise – the biggest increase of all road types. RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “This is proof of the significance of the road network and vehicles to the economy as it corresponds with GDP growth estimates* in the same period. Lower fuel prices from April to June no doubt contributed to this increase, but forecourt prices have been on the rise in the third quarter so we are hopeful this will not have too negative an effect on business. “Motorists in general were clearly taking the opportunity to make greater use of the roads without their pockets being so harshly punished.”
*ONS Gross Domestic Product Preliminary Estimate, Q2 2013 http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_319698.pdf
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Lib Dems: ban petrol and diesel cars from UK roads by 2040
The Liberal Democrats have unveiled proposals in their 2013 Party Conference agenda to only allow ultra-low carbon vehicles on UK roads by 2040.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “The Lib Dems are setting a direction that seems reasonable but the balance needs to be right between the needs of the environment and those of motorists. “Current Ultra Low Carbon vehicles rely on plugging into the electricity supply and it’s no good having low carbon vehicles if we don’t have low carbon electricity. It will also be essential that financial support is available to motorists along the lines of the scrappage scheme operated a few years back if ever increasingly stringent carbon dioxide emissions targets are to be applied to vehicles already on the road.”
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Government Command Paper: Action for Roads
16 July 2013
The Government today announced the detail of its promised £28bn investment in England’s roads in its Action for Roads – A network for the 21st century – document.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “This is good news for motorists as significant spending on maintaining and developing our road network is badly needed, but the key element is the decision to publish a Roads Investment Strategy with the funding underwritten by legislation.
“This is the first step in re-establishing trust between the Government and the motorist in the development and maintenance of our major roads and the proposal to introduce a roads watchdog will also make an important contribution to rebuilding trust. The inclusion of a National Policy Statement should help to speed up the planning process and is therefore a positive step which recognises the importance of turning plans into delivery with a real sense of urgency.
“The decision to follow the recommendations of the Cook Report and make the Highways Agency a more commercial entity that is still ultimately responsible to the Government should enable the agency to operate more efficiently and effectively; and this can only benefit motorists, and indeed all tax payers.
“These plans must not be blown off course by changing governments or by any new priorities that may emerge because it is essential that our motorways and major roads are run as efficiently and effectively as possible. The paper notes that some projects will extend beyond the medium-term funding horizon of the Roads Investment Strategy and we hope that Government will continue to look at options to ring-fence some of the £40bn-plus per year of motoring taxes to create a genuine long-term funding stream for roads maintenance and development to underwrite such projects.
“This bold investment plan must be delivered on time and within budget so that motorists and businesses can reap the benefits and we see a genuine reduction in congestion and poor road surfaces. This will ensure the strategic road network is an enabler, rather than an inhibitor of economic growth.
“It’s welcome that minimum standards are to be established for the most important A roads as these form an essential part of many journeys. Any journey is, of course, only as good as its weakest point and the investment in motorway capacity will not realise its full potential without investment in the A-roads that are an equally important component of getting from A to B.”
Cyclists and walkers
“It’s good that cyclists and walkers have not been neglected. We know that many motorists are also cyclists so the commitment to correct historic cycle safety problems and recognise cyclists’ needs in the new schemes is a positive move for all road users.”
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Tackling the menace of drug driving – RAC welcomes Government move to clarify legislation
9 July 2013
Plans to make it easier to prosecute those who drive under the influence of illegal drugs have been published by Roads Minister Stephen Hammond.
In January 2012 the government announced that it would be introducing a new offence of driving with a specific controlled drug in the body above the specified limit for that drug.
The consultation published today (9 July 2013) puts forward proposals on the drugs to be included in the legislation and the limits to be specified. The proposals follow a report published in March this year by a panel of medical and scientific experts which provided advice to the government on drug driving.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “We welcome the Government’s move to bring increasing levels of clarity to driving on illegal drugs and prescription medication, something that is very much needed.
“We all know that driving under the influence of drugs is extremely dangerous and wrecks lives – but it is also a growing problem, particularly among young motorists.
“Therefore, it is more important than ever to inform and educate, otherwise we are allowing people to drive without regular reminders about the dangers of drug driving and how impaired senses can lead to serious injuries and fatalities.
“Motorists will be happy to see the Government taking a lead on this and ensuring people understand their position – and what happens if they step over the line.”
See the RAC’s comment in the Department for Transport’s press release announcing the consultation:
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RAC response to Spending Review and Highways Agency announcement
27 June 2013
The Government today announced plans for a £100bn modernisation of the UK's infrastructure including £28bn for road improvements over the six years from 2014, of which £10bn will be dedicated to essential maintenance to motorways and major trunk roads between 2015-16 and 2020-21.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “It is good news for motorists that the Government has recognised both the need for significant maintenance and appropriate investment in increasing road capacity to remove the bottlenecks on some of our busiest roads. These plans must not be blown off course by changing governments or by any new priorities that may emerge.
“The key words in Mr Alexander’s speech were that the Government is ‘legislating to ensure these reforms and this investment is guaranteed’.
“It is essential that our motorways and major roads are run as efficiently and effectively as possible and that this bold investment plan is delivered on time and within budget so that motorists and businesses can reap the benefits and we see a genuine reduction in congestion and poor road surfaces. This will ensure the strategic road network is an enabler, rather than an inhibitor of economic growth.
“The decision therefore to follow the recommendations of the Cook Report and make the Highways Agency a more commercial entity that is still ultimately responsible to the Government is a welcome move which should bring many benefits for the motorist.
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to fund local road maintenance but there must be some risk that the benefits of this could be undermined by the further overall cuts to local authority grants which could reduce their ability to contribute to their share of local road maintenance from the money they generate themselves. We know from the RAC Report on Motoring 2013 that spending on local roads is the number one priority for motorists.”
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Oil companies raided by EU in price-rigging investigation
The European Commission has carried out 'unannounced inspections' to investigate claims oil companies colluded to manipulate prices.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “This is very worrying news for motorists who are suffering real hardship brought about by the high cost of motoring, particularly the high prices charged at the pumps. The Office of Fair Trading inquiry concluded at the end of January that the UK fuel market was operating fairly and not against the best interests of motorists, and therefore that a Competition Commission investigation was not needed. Motorists will be very interested to see what comes of these raids. Whatever happens the RAC will continue to campaign for greater transparency in the UK fuel market and for a further reduction in fuel duty to stimulate economic growth.”
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RAC welcomes Government plans to compel motorway service station forecourts to advertise fuel prices
14 May 2013
RAC spokesman Pete Williams said: “Motorway drivers have long been the victims of some pretty indefensible pricing at the pumps with many service stations charging on average 10 pence extra per litre above the ‘high-street’ or supermarket forecourt price. Compelling the fuel retailer to display their prices clearly before the service station will ensure that drivers get some warning of how much they are likely to be fleeced when they fill up.
“This is welcome news for motorists and commercial drivers alike but we still need motorway services to be transparent and fair on all their prices. They have held the motorist to ransom for far too long - let’s hope that Number 10 encourages them to sort out their food prices and their parking charges too.”
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Motorists cut 1.7 million miles off their journeys in the first quarter of 2013
9 May 2013
The severe winter appears to have had a big effect on road traffic levels according to provisional Government figures.
Motor vehicle traffic in Britain fell 2.3% to 74.7 billion miles in the first three months of 2013 compared with the same period last year.
RAC spokesman Pete Williams said: “All in all it was a tough winter for UK motorists. Ravaged by floods, snow drifts and arctic conditions drivers battled on against the elements to get to work and carry on their lives but for many they were stopped in their tracks by the high price of fuel.
“While we should welcome the news that there was less traffic on our roads the RAC attended more than 700,000 breakdowns during this period, nearly 10% higher than expected, we know that it didn’t feel any less frustrating for motorists.
“We know that motorists have been reducing their mileage year on year to save on the cost of motoring but the record high price of fuel, which is mostly down to the excessive level of duty and VAT, has forced many motorists to cut out non-essential journeys. But this has to be another warning sign to the Government that a change to motoring taxation is long overdue as a valuable revenue stream is clearly in decline.”
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Primary teachers want more 20mph limits
7 May 2013
A survey of primary school teachers carried out by road safety charity Brake has revealed that 81% wanted 20mph limits around schools and on connecting routes to local homes.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “There is evidence that 20mph limits are beneficial in accident hot spots, in busy urban areas and near schools. Creating more 20mph zones around schools is by far the most practical and effective solution for keeping children safe.
“Any suggestions of blanket 20mph limit in urban zones really don’t make sense to motorists who readily recognise that different roads and different environments warrant different speed limits and driving behaviours.
“In fact, in Portsmouth a city-wide 20mph trial was found not to bring any significant reduction in the number of accidents. This would indicate that using 20mph throughout towns or cities is not as effective as reducing limits to 20mph around schools where drivers can clearly see their importance.”
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RAC welcomes 2p supermarket petrol price cut
15 April 2013
Asda and Sainsbury today began a petrol price reduction by cutting 2p a litre off petrol prices.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “Certainly, this price cut will be widely welcomed by UK motorists and it is encouraging to see that the drop in the wholesale price of fuel is being passed on
“Nonetheless, it is difficult to underestimate the impact that the UK’s high fuel prices are having on us as individuals – our research has shown that almost half of motorists would avoid promotion or a new job that involves more driving, and a quarter believe prices negatively affect their working life. The RAC will continue to fight the motorist’s corner on this front and campaign for greater price transparency.”
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RAC urges motorists to think about their driving style
11 April 2013
Almost a quarter of male drivers admit to overtaking ‘blind’ at the wheel, according to a survey by road safety charity Brake.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “It’s clearly worrying the sheer number of motorists which admit to speeding, particularly on country roads, which are the most dangerous of all.
“Our own Report on Motoring reveals more than one in three (37%) drivers say they speed in 50-60mph zones, supporting the evidence presented by Brake. The fact that the number of accidents and fatalities is higher on country roads highlights the need for motorists to apply the highest levels of responsibility when driving both in urban and rural areas.
“We welcome greater awareness to the perils of speeding and dangerous overtaking and would encourage motorists to take a moment to consider their driving style before getting back behind the wheel.”
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Chancellor scraps September 2013 fuel duty increase
20 March 2013
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “It’s great news that the Chancellor is not trying to reverse the underlying downward trend in fuel duty revenue by simply clawing back more money for the Treasury per litre.
“The fact the Government hasn’t increased fuel duty since 2010 demonstrates the current model for the taxation of motoring has had its day. Fuel duty revenue has declined as a result of motorists reducing their annual mileage, buying more fuel efficient vehicles and driving in a more eco-friendly way. This clearly supports the need for the Government to find better ways of securing funding to ensure the longer term development and maintenance of the road network without unfairly punishing less affluent motorists who have no alternative to the car for the basics of life.”
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RAC response to supermarket fuel price drop
12 March 2013
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “This is a welcome move by Sainsbury’s and full credit to them for being the first to pass on the recent fall in the cost of wholesale fuel prices.
“It has been anticipated by the RAC as it echoes exactly what we have been calling for since 25 February, when world petrol and diesel wholesale prices began to fall steadily.
“We are confident this drop in price will be picked up by the other fuel retailers in a similar way. It will certainly be appreciated by motorists and their families who have had to endure ever-increasing prices on the forecourts this winter.
“However, the fact remains we still need more transparency on pricing as 60% of the cost at the pump is paid in duty and tax to the Government. The RAC is campaigning with partners, such as FairFuelUK, to raise awareness of how much motorists in this country are paying compared to our European counterparts.”
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RAC comment on Boris Johnson’s £913million London cycling plan
07 March 2013
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “On the surface this appears to be good news for London if it truly lives up to the mayor’s aspirations of making transport in the city better for everyone.
“The RAC supports schemes to ensure that cycling is easy and safe as many motorists are cyclists and many cyclists are motorists. Segregating the two is ultimately the best solution so the proposals are welcome from that respect but the devil is very often in the detail therefore we are keen to understand how traffic will be affected.
“In common with all transport investments, we expect prioritisation to be based on value for money. For these reasons, we have concerns about proposals for HS2, not because we are anti-rail but because it delivers a relatively poor return on investment but will soak up huge amounts of transport investment which could be better spent on other, more modest schemes that deliver greater value.
“There must be some risk that the mayor’s cycling superhighway is the HS2 of cycling … a great idea in principle but does it deliver as much value as could be delivered by a number of smaller, more modest schemes?”
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RAC response to potential fuel price rise
25 January 2013
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “It’s hugely disappointing for motorists that another painful price rise is looming, particularly as it comes so quickly after the good news that the Government has scrapped the planned January 3p fuel duty increase.
ldquo;It would, however, be extremely ironic if a price rise was to hit in the very week the Office of Fair Trading plans to publish the findings of its review of UK fuel prices.
“We hope the OFT’s findings will finally bring some much-need transparency to fuel pricing. While people understand petrol retailers’ need to raise prices when industry wholesale costs go up, it is extremely frustrating to watch prices go up far faster than they ever come down.
Rising fuel prices cause economic hardship for millions and hinder the growth of the economy, and for the tens of millions of households who rely on their car, this news could not have come at a worse time.”
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RAC response to Autumn Statement
5 December 2012
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “The Chancellor had little option but to listen to the voice of British motorists and businesses and scrap the 3p fuel duty rise planned for January otherwise he would have faced a national outcry.
“The RAC and FairFuelUK have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to encourage politicians to recognise the significant impact the price of fuel is having on our lives and how it is stifling the economy, inflating retail prices and reducing our competitive position against Europe.
“Even though fuel remains far too expensive we do appreciate that ministers and MPs have entered into constructive dialogue with the RAC and FairFuelUK.
“It is good news an extra £1bn is to be spent on roads, including four major new schemes to upgrade key sections of the A1, bringing the route from London to Newcastle up to motorway standard, link the A5 with the M1, dual the A30 in Cornwall and upgrade the M25. These important improvements will make a real difference to the lives of thousands of motorists every day.
“We strongly urge the Government to launch a thorough review of how motorists are taxed. The Government can no longer justify the second highest fuel duty level in Europe, almost 60% of the price on the forecourt, when only a fraction of this revenue (around £45billion) is actually spent on road building and maintenance.
“The Government can no longer justify the second highest fuel duty level in Europe, almost 60% of the price on the forecourt, when only a fraction of this revenue (around £45billion) is actually spent on road building and maintenance.
“Our members want to see a fairer and more transparent system of motoring taxation which is why the RAC’s is calling on the Government to come clean by putting the amount of duty and VAT on motorists’ fuel receipts so they can see how much they are paying to the Treasury every time they fill up.
“As well as harming the economy, the RAC has found the high price of fuel is keeping people apart. Eighty-five per cent of motorists say it is having a negative impact on their social lives and 75% have cut out journeys to save money. Most disturbingly, 6% also tell us they have slept in their cars to avoid the high cost of commuting.”*
*Based on a survey of 9,284 people conducted by the RAC online from 28–30 November 2012.
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RAC welcomes the announcement by Tesco that it is cutting 3p off a litre of fuel.
27 November 2012
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “Every penny off fuel makes a difference for motorists – but what we need now is for other retailers to follow their lead. Our members are telling us that the price of fuel is having a negative impact on their lives as they are cutting social and family journeys in an effort to save money.
“This will help make it a little more affordable for families to travel to spend time together this Christmas. What would really make this festive period special would be for the Chancellor to announce next Wednesday that he is scrapping the 3p duty rise planned for next January.
“In particular people living in rural areas are at their wits end – they are telling us that they have no alternative and are having to cut back on other essential household bills in an effort to keep their cars on the road in order to get to work, school and maintain contact.”
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3p on fuel duty in January would be a step too far, says the RAC
12 November 2012
RAC technical director David Bizley says: “Any increase in fuel duty is likely to be the final straw for drivers who are already struggling to put fuel in their cars as demonstrated last month when petrol sales for the first half of 2012 showed 2 billion fewer litres of fuel were bought compared to the same period before the recession in 2008.
“The RAC’s 2012 Report on Motoring revealed that people have already been forced to cut out discretionary journeys but now the price of fuel is starting to hit household budgets even harder, particularly those who have to drive longer distances to get to work.
“Our survey of 1,000 motorists found that 29% said they would cut out social engagements and a quarter (25%) would stop driving to family commitments if the price of fuel continued to rise. It is a sad indictment of British motoring taxation that families are being driven apart by the ever-escalating cost of petrol and diesel, especially as it’s money that’s going straight to the Treasury as opposed to being spent on maintaining or building new roads.
“The irony – as our colleagues at FairFuelUK have been pointing out today - is the Government would generate far more money by reducing fuel duty and stimulating the economy than they will if they decide to add 3p in January as planned.”
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RAC comment on two tier VED/road tax proposal
1 November 2012
RAC technical director David Bizley says: “We believe this is a hugely unfair system, particularly for people who only use the motorway system very occasionally as they would pay exactly the same as someone who uses the motorway to get to work every day. It would also inevitably create more traffic on other roads especially around motorway junctions and on roads that run parallel to motorways.
“Motorists already pay around £45bn a year in taxation which is four times as much as the Government spends on the maintaining and developing the road network. If we were to go down this route we would want to see any additional taxes ringfenced to ensure they are spent on roads.
“The RAC would ideally like to see a major overhaul of the motoring taxation system. In that instance we believe a ‘pay as you drive’ based solution is probably the least unattractive option but the 60% fuel tax issue would have to be addressed and reduced as part of this.
“People want transparency around motoring taxation and at the moment we are long way from that. This is why the RAC has been calling, along with FairFuelUK, for fuel receipts to list the cost of the fuel, duty and VAT separately.”
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‘Don’t forget the motorist’ warns RAC in CBI road pricing debate
8 October 2012
The CBI’s proposals to remove the English road network from the Government budget will stimulate the debate to find a solution to easing congestion in the long term, but it’s critical not to overlook the views of motorists, warns the RAC.
RAC technical director David Bizley says: “We agree that something needs to be done to unlock road capacity but road pricing is not the answer in itself which is why we are calling for a comprehensive review of motoring taxation so that road charges are not seen as an additional tax on driving."
“Figures show that motorists contribute over £48bn* a year to the Exchequer which is more than five times the £9 billion a year that central and local government actually spends on roads. It’s therefore clear that motoring brings in sufficient money to run, and even invest in, our roads, it’s just that the Government chooses to spend this money elsewhere."
“It’s no wonder UK motorists feel they are being treated as a cash cow by government and it’s vital that their opinions are not ignored in this process. Any attempt to introduce road pricing will need to be explained carefully so that people understand the benefits such as incentivising driving at times and in places where roads are least utilised."
“RAC is not opposed to the principle of road pricing and other reasonable measures aimed at making better use of existing roads and reducing congestion as long as other areas of motoring taxation don’t continue to increase. And, if we are to go down this route then it is important that any net increase in motoring taxation revenues is ring-fenced purely for investment in the transport infrastructure.”
* According to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee Sixth Report ‘Taxes and charges on road users’ 14 July 2009.
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New approach to Britain’s young drivers welcomed
4 October 2012
The RAC supports the Association of British Insurers’ call for a radical overhaul of how young people learn to drive made in its ‘Improving the Safety of Young Drivers’ report published in October 2012.
Mark Godfrey, head of RAC Insurance, says: “Reducing accidents, deaths and injuries among young drivers is a priority for Britain as a nation. Far too many lives, both young and older, are lost or wrecked every year due to road accidents involving young drivers.
“Changing the way young people learn to drive and what they are allowed to do once they pass their tests has to be a positive move for everyone who drives. There are, however, many questions about how this would be implemented that need to be addressed carefully to ensure we don’t make the hassle and the expense of learning to drive prohibitive.
“If these proposals can be introduced easily and practically we will inevitably see a drop in the number of accidents involving young people under the age of 25. They will also have a positive effect on the cost of insurance for older drivers which is currently heavily influenced by young drivers.”
The ABI is calling for the following measures to improve the safety of young drivers:
A minimum 12-month learning period before taking the driving test to enable young learner drivers to gain more supervised practice
A ban on taking an intensive driving course as the sole means of learning to drive
The lowering of the age at which young people can start learning to drive to age 16 and a half
Graduated driver licensing. This would include restrictions on the number of young drivers that can be carried by a young driver in the first six months after passing their driving test, reflecting the fact that the crash risk increases significantly with young passengers in the car
The ‘Improving the Safety of Young Drivers’ report states:
Only one in eight driver licence holders in the UK are aged 25 or under, yet one in three who die on our roads is aged under 25.
An 18 year-old driver is more than three times as likely to be involved in a crash than a 48 year-old driver.
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RAC opposes new proposals to reform car tax
4 October 2012
RAC is today voicing its opposition to new proposals to replace vehicle excise duty with a one-off emissions charge on new cars.
The plans published yesterday in a report by think-tank CentreForum are aimed at cutting 2.6% off total UK carbon emissions and come as the Treasury is considering the best way to reform vehicle excise duty.
Under the proposed scheme a new one-off purchase tax would be charged on cars with engines that produce large volumes of CO2 and other pollution. A proportion of the money collected would be used as a subsidy towards buying the most efficient vehicles.
RAC technical director David Bizley says: “Any new form of duty that is charged on the price of new cars is hugely unfair on larger families who require bigger cars to get around. It also penalises people that do not drive many miles a year but may need to run a larger, four-wheel drive vehicle because of where they live or the job they do.
“This type of scheme is only fair if everybody drives the same amount of miles a year. For this reason RAC is in favour of a scheme based on the number of miles a car is driven a year.
“RAC strongly supports the reduction of carbon emissions but is urging the Government to conduct a wholesale review of motoring taxation to ensure every element from vehicle excise duty to the duty and VAT charged on fuel is considered to give the motorist a fair and transparent deal.
“RAC is working to reduce the emissions impact of its roadside assistance patrols by encouraging local repairs, using low emissions vehicles and driving to minimise fuel consumption.”
RAC is a strong supporter of green vehicle technology and is the lead sponsor in the Royal Automobile Club’s Future Car Challenge, which takes place on 3 November 2012 between Brighton and London. The event aims to inform and excite the motoring public in the capability of low emissions vehicles in a 63-mile fuel-efficiency competition featuring both production cars and prototype vehicles.
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Petrol sales slump demonstrates motorists have had their fill
2 October 2012
News that British motorists bought 2 billion fewer litres of fuel in the first half of 2012 than they did in the same period in 2008 before the recession demonstrates that the ever escalating price is driving motorists off the roads.
RAC technical director David Bizley says: “This drop in petrol sales is yet more evidence that motorists are finding it increasingly hard to stomach escalating fuel prices and are ultimately driving less.
“The reasons behind this are many. Research from the 2012 RAC Report on Motoring* found a steady reduction in the number of discretionary journeys people are making. In addition to this there is also a trend for buying smaller vehicles and driving in a more fuel efficient way. Unfortunately people are very quickly running out of options to reduce the amount of their income they have to spend on putting fuel in their cars.
“The next quarter’s fuel sales figures will be critical. If they show a further drop then this will indicate a true cause for concern. The planned 3p a litre rise in fuel duty planned for January 2013 could be the final straw for Britain’s motorists.
“The drop in petrol sales is also bad news for the Treasury as it means less money is being collected in duty. We strongly urge the Government to cut the amount of duty charged on fuel as this will do more good for the country’s finances by actually stimulating growth.
“And there is a need for greater transparency in pricing and duty on fuel. The consistently high price of fuel is hitting business and rural inhabitants hardest. As a supporter of FairFuel UK RAC is calling for the introduction of fuel receipts which clearly break down the cost so motorists can see what share the fuel companies get and what they are paying to the Government in duty and VAT each time they fill their tank.
RAC welcomed the recent OFT announcement of a thorough investigation into fuel prices and the failure of fuel companies to pass on price reductions when the oil price drops. Today’s news makes a full review of fuel pricing a priority.
RAC has been championing the cause of motorists since 1897 and has led the campaign to highlight the impact of rising fuel prices on drivers and businesses. As a key supporter of FairFuel UK, RAC has been instrumental in raising the issue of fuel duty in Parliament and lobbying for future duty increases to be scrapped.
*The RAC’s Report on Motoring 2012 is a comprehensive study of the behaviours and attitudes of more than 1,000 motorists which has been running for 24 years. The latest report found the cost of motoring to be the primary concern of motorists with 30% saying that it is their number one concern, and 61% that it is one of their top five concerns. Over half of drivers have cut down or combined the journeys that take this year in order to cut costs.”
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Clampers get their marching orders
1 October 2012
RAC welcomes today’s legislation which outlaws rogue clampers from clamping vehicles on private land.
However it warns that it does not ban landowners from issuing parking tickets and excludes many locations such as car parks at railway stations, airports and ports where by-laws give landowners the right to manage parking in any way they choose.
RAC spokesman, Pete Williams, said: “This is welcome news for motorists and should lead to a dramatic cut in unjust fines but we would warn everyone to be aware that bogus parking tickets will inevitably increase.
“RAC provides its own legal services team available to offer RAC members advice on potentially illegal parking tickets.”
The new law aims to get rid of indiscriminate clamping and towing by private companies and introduce a fairer legal framework for landowners and motorists. Other changes include extending police powers to remove vehicles parked on private land.
Motorists currently pay £55 million a year in clamping fees – but rogue companies may simply turn to issuing tickets.
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RAC urges fuel retailers to follow ASDA’s lead
24 September 2012
RAC technical director David Bizley says: “We are relieved to see a major fuel retailer finally reducing the cost of petrol and diesel at the pump in response to a reduction in the price of oil.
“We hope that others will do the right thing and follow suit so that our members and motorists across the UK can benefit. Normally fuel retailers are quick to raise fuel prices when the oil cost of oil goes up and slow to bring them down when it drops. Perhaps the Office of Fair Trading’s fuel review announcement is already affecting the market.
“Unfortunately this is only part of the problem as the price motorists pay on the forecourt is at least 60% duty. As a supporter of FairFuelUK, RAC is lobbying the Government to reduce the amount of tax on petrol and diesel. We believe this will actually help to stimulate the economy and generate more income for the Government.”
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RAC comment on limited take up of the Government’s
Plug-in Vehicle Scheme
20 September 2012
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “It’s not surprising in these hard-stretched economic times that people are not finding the money for expensively priced pure electric vehicles that are limited in both range and performance. Despite the running costs being lower than conventional vehicles, the scheme is not enough in itself to make these vehicles affordable for the average family because of the high initial outlay. However, the new generation of plug-in hybrid and extended range electric vehicles that are starting to appear on the market should have greater appeal.
“The issue of there being a lack of charging points is somewhat of a red-herring as pure electric vehicles are currently only likely to be used on shorter journeys.
“It is very important that we encourage people to take up new technology that will help the environment but some innovative thinking is clearly required in order to come up with the right incentives that will lead to greater take-up.”
As the lead sponsor in the Royal Automobile Club’s Future Car Challenge, which takes place on 3 November 2012 between Brighton and London, RAC is a strong supporter of green vehicle technology.
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OFT review into price of fuel
5 September 2012
David Bizley, RAC technical director, says: “Anything that brings transparency to fuel pricing is very welcome. Most motorists are very aware that fuel prices go up far faster than they ever come down so it is a very positive move that OFT is seeking to clarify the situation once and for all. Rising fuel prices cause economic hardship for millions, particularly in rural areas, and hinder the growth of the economy so this really is news that motorists would like to have had a long time ago.
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Fuel duty increases hit motorists and the economy
22 August 2012
RAC rejects IPPR claim that ‘war on motorists’ is a myth.
David Bizley, RAC’s technical director said: “The call from IPPR for an immediate increase on fuel duty will not be well received by motorists when they next fill up their fuel tanks.
“The cost of motoring is the number one concern for UK motorists and has the greatest impact on rural drivers and families reliant on their vehicles.
“We also know that there is a direct link between fuel prices and economic growth. Fuel duty increases not only hit the cost of motoring but hit the cost of most goods and services and have a significant impact on economic growth. At a time when the economy is in stagnation it doesn’t make sense to increase fuel duty and add to these problems.
“RAC is a key supporter of the FairFuel UK which campaigned successfully for the planned 3 pence duty increase which had been planned to hit this month.”
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