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3.0 Motorists' concerns

Road coneWhile motorists may be less concerned about global issues, they are more engaged with their own personal driving environment.

Motorists know that the state of public finances and reduced emission targets are out of their control, but they do want to try and influence their local roads and journeys. This translates into concern about the roads in their local area and more importantly the behaviour of the other drivers they encounter while in their cars. So what is currently worrying the motorist?

3.1 Other Drivers

The behaviour of other drivers on the road is of most concern to all drivers - knocking the cost of motoring off the top spot. This again harks back to a desire to control their driving environment and perhaps an acceptance that the cost of motoring is high and likely to keep increasing.

Concern stat - concerned motorists

This year motorists' biggest concerns were people driving under the influence of drink or drugs, followed by using a mobile phone without a hands free kit while driving and driving without tax or insurance.

  • Eighty-four per cent were very concerned about drunk or drugged drivers.
  • Seventy-four per cent were very concerned about the use of non hands-free mobile phones while driving.
  • Seventy per cent were very concerned about other people driving without tax or insurance up from 61% last year.
  • Sixty eight per cent were very concerned about the cost of driving, down from 73% last year.
  • Sixty-three per cent were very concerned about other motorists breaking traffic laws such as running red lights or speeding.
  • Thirty-nine per cent were very concerned about the rudeness of other drivers.

Drivers are also conscious that both older and younger drivers are at greater risk of being involved in accidents. Some 27% of motorists are very concerned with the behaviour of drivers under the age of 21 while 22% are very concerned with the driving ability of the over 70s. Statistically however younger drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident.

Concerns - shovel

3.2 The State of the Roads

The state of the roads is a perennial problem. But this year it has come to the fore because of the damage caused by the snow and prolonged cold weather this winter.

In March, the Department for Transport gave local authorities an extra £100 million to deal with potholes, but 96% of motorists are still concerned with the condition and maintenance of the roads. Splitting this down further, 88% believe their local roads are getting noticeably worse and 70% of motorists believe the quality of motorways and other major roads is noticeably worse these days.

Roads need to be better managed in winter, and damage repaired faster.

3.3 Congestion

Motorists are exasperated at the state of the roads and the conditions they are forced to drive under, but their frustration is more targeted. Levels of concern over traffic congestion and slower journey times have fallen from 64% in 2007 to just 41% this year, a massive 23 point drop. Now, it is the unexpected and unnecessary delays which cause anger - and leave half of drivers feeling more frustrated and annoyed than they did a few years ago. Motorists want to know how long their journey is going to take, however long, so they can plan around it. Linked with this - and often the cause of the disruption - 86% of drivers are concerned about road closures and road works.

Advanced warning signs are the most popular measure to reduce congestion, with two in five motorists saying they had a positive effect. Just over a third believes active traffic management and hard shoulder running had a beneficial effect. However, a significant percentage - 40% and 32% respectively believed the measures made no difference to congestion.

Active Traffic Management (ATM) is a tool box that can be used to manage traffic flows in peak traffic periods. The tool box includes measures such as electronic signage above lanes to vary the speed limit and use of the hard shoulder as a running lane. All of these can be used on a mix and match basis depending on local requirements and constraints.

Hard shoulder running is currently only in operation on a section of the M42 in the West Midlands, though it has been approved for nationwide rollout - from Manchester to Bristol - as a means of easing congestion.

Graham Dalton, Chief Executive, Highways Agency "We are very encouraged that motorists are recognising the benefits of hard shoulder running. This is a fantastic result."

3.4 The Environment

While the environment is covered in greater detail later in the Report, it is worth noting how environmental concerns have fallen down motorists' list of priorities. In 2007 before the recession hit, 51% of motorists were very concerned about green issues and the effect that their driving had on the environment. In 2010, less than a quarter of motorists have these concerns, and one in four drivers doesn't think it's realistic to take environmental issues into account in today's motoring world.

4.0 The law abiding driver

2.0 Who is the motorist?