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Executive summary

This Report reveals how motorists feel about the environment and the way it has changed motoring during the first 20 years of the Report on Motoring. It questions their acceptance of incentives and penalties, discusses whether our current car use is sustainable and what could be done to reduce dependence.

There are a series of key highlights and findings in the Report, which are described here:

  • 77% of motorists would consider purchasing an environmentally friendly car if the tax incentives were better – up from 66% since 2007.
  • Motorists say they want education and training on what really matters and makes a difference to driving in an environmentally friendly way.
  • The cost of motoring is currently of much greater concern to drivers than its impact on the environment. The debate in motorists minds is more about the pound in their pocket rather than saving the planet. Almost half of motorists tell us that increases in the cost of fuel have been the single biggest influence on changing their driving behaviour. How this change is sustained once the economic climate improves is a key challenge for Government.
  • Although drivers say that using their car for short journeys is 'bad', they are still doing it. Four of the top six rated 'greener driving behaviours' are amongst the least frequently practiced.
  • Nearly three in four motorists (72%) say that improvement in public transport is needed now if car dependency is to reduce.
  • Two in three agreed that taxing a vehicle on the basis of its CO2 emissions is – in principle – a good thing. However, motorists' understanding of the emissions generated by different fuels is somewhat confused.
  • Historically Governments placed the responsibility for resolving environmental issues firmly at the door of manufacturers. Drivers could carry on as before. Now, the responsibility needs to be shared, with motorists, manufacturers and Government all having a contribution to make.

Greener driving

For the purpose of this Report, RAC has used the phrase 'greener driving' and 'environmentally-friendly' driving. We recognise that driving has an impact on the environment, and the emphasis for this Report is how to make it more sustainable.

Environmental challenges according to motorists