Cost of motoring
Fuel: While the cost of fuel has become less of a concern for motorists, the UK referendum vote to leave the EU has, and will continue to impact upon the value of the pound. With economic uncertainty remaining over the timing of withdrawal, the RAC urges the Government not to increase duty either before or after the mechanisms for formal withdrawal are enacted. This will cushion the impact of volatility in the pound-dollar exchange rate over this period.
Insurance: With the cost of insuring a car now a greater concern for motorists than the cost of fuel, the RAC seeks assurances from the Treasury that Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) will not be increased any further, following two recent rises. We also call upon the Government to bring forward its plans to clamp down on bogus whiplash claims to help protect motorists from further premium increases.
Handheld mobile phones: Use of handheld mobile phones remains the biggest road safety concern among motorists, and while the Government is progressing the introduction of stiffer penalties, we call on all stakeholders to step up efforts to shift cultural attitudes, so as to make the use of handheld mobile phones as socially unacceptable as drink-driving.
Drink-driving: Despite there being no reduction in the numbers of motorists who admit to drinking and driving, it has dropped down the overall ranking of motorists’ concerns over the last 12 months. The RAC calls on the Government and other road safety champions to remind motorists of the dangers of drink-driving. A majority of motorists would like to see the drink-drive limit at 50mg/100ml or less across the whole of the UK and we urge the UK Government to draw on evidence from Scotland to review the merits of following the Scottish example and, if appropriate, reduce the limit in England and Wales from 80mg/100ml to 50mg/100 ml.
Speed limits: The rise in the numbers of motorists admitting to breaking the 50 & 60mph limits on country roads is a worrying trend, particularly as these roads are some of our least safe. The RAC calls upon the Government to extend the THINK! campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of inappropriate speeds on country roads and upon other road safety advocates to also seek ways to influence driver behaviour on this issue.
Enforcement: With compliance on some traffic laws such as speed limits and on the use of handheld mobile phones seemingly getting worse, the RAC calls for an end to cuts in roads policing and urges police and crime commissioners and chief constables to give greater priority to enforcement of road traffic laws.
The state of the roads
Local roads: The state of local roads remains one of motorists’ top concerns. The RAC calls on the Government to recognise the importance of local roads as an essential component of the UK’s transport infrastructure and ringfence a proportion of motoring tax receipts to tackle the maintenance backlog and fund local improvement schemes. Such action should mirror that already taken to fund the development and maintenance of the strategic road network and would reflect the importance of local roads to economic growth.
Strategic road network: With increasing concern among motorists regarding congestion and less predictable journey times, the RAC calls on the Government and Highways England to continue prioritising both the delivery of the Road Investment Strategy (‘RIS 1’) on time and within budget and the development of the second Road Investment Strategy (‘RIS 2’), effective from 2020/21. The RAC also calls on Highways England to further improve the quality and accuracy of the information provided to network users on major incidents, prioritising location, estimated delay time and the fastest alternative route.
Parking: Motorists are more concerned about parking availability and cost than 12 months ago and the Government has been slow to respond to the Department for Communities and Local Government discussion paper on parking practices. We urge the Government and local authorities to recognise the important role that parking fulfils in the health of local high streets, on employment and on local communities and to reflect this in both parking provision and the associated legislative framework.
Air quality: Motorists are concerned about poor air quality, particularly in their local area and the RAC calls on the Government to move forward rapidly to implement the air quality strategy published in 2015. We also call upon those local authorities implementing Clean Air Zones to do so in line with the framework defined in the strategy, to target only the most polluting vehicles, and to do so in a way that is not punitive for owners of smaller, more modern diesel vehicles, many of whom believed their choice to be environmentally sound because of the low carbon dioxide emissions of such vehicles.
Driverless cars: There is still a poor understanding of the potential benefits of connected and autonomous vehicles among motorists with many sceptical and some fearful of the prospect of driverless cars on UK roads. A receptive and enthusiastic home market would benefit the UK‘s economic success in this emerging market and the RAC therefore calls on the Government and the motor industry to inform and engage with motorists so that they better understand the benefits of such vehicles.