I am delighted to introduce the RAC’s 28th annual Report on Motoring. My enthusiasm for the great outdoors is well known and in my capacity as president of The Camping and Caravanning (C&C) Club, I meet many fellow enthusiasts.
We tend to take our cars for granted but the majority of us who love camping and caravanning depend upon them, and the freedom that they give us, to travel to remote places to enjoy the scenery and explore the area. The C&C Club has nearly 600,000 members from all walks of life and their views are likely to be a microcosm of those of the wider motoring public.
Fuel prices have been a top concern for all drivers for a number of years but with the fall in world oil prices, research for this year’s report shows that this has dropped down the list of motorists’ concerns compared with previous years.
But we cannot say the same about the state of the roads. Driving into a pothole can do huge damage to a vehicle’s wheels, tyres and suspension and while the country’s motorways and major roads are generally in a decent condition, rural roads in many areas across the UK are in a pretty poor state. It’s not surprising therefore that the state of local roads is the number-one concern for motorists in 2016.
With fuel more affordable, it is understandable that our roads have become busier over the last year and this has translated into increased concern about congestion and lengthier journey times for both local and longer trips. I am sure many of the C&C Club’s members have experienced this and are starting their journeys at times when traffic is likely to be at its lightest.
The Report highlights that road safety issues are high on the list of motorists’ concerns. It’s the irresponsible behaviour of a small minority of drivers that concern responsible motorists. It is those who insist on using their smartphones without a hands-free kit while driving, those who drive uninsured or untaxed vehicles, those who ignore traffic law and those who, despite all of the warnings, still drive when over the drink-drive limit, who increase the risk of accidents for all of us.
The development of our attitudes as road users starts when we are young. We follow our parents’ example and we learn from other role models at school and in outside interest groups. As an ambassador for UK Scouting I see many examples of how the movement helps to educate and inform young people through activities which are not only fun, but also lay the foundations that help them to develop into responsible members of society. The Cubs’ road safety badge, which is a joint initiative by the RAC and the Scout Association and is ably supported by the RAC’s Road Safety mascot Horace, is a great example of this.
As in previous years, the report is a fascinating window on motoring and the views of motorists. What’s more, it offers insight that can help drive improvements for motorists in the months and years ahead.