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8.0 The economy and the motorist

Fuel BoardSaving money is high on motorists' list of priorities. Half of motorists think that the high levels of tax levied on motorists are meant to act as a deterrent - pricing some off the road completely and limiting the amount of driving others can afford to undertake. They are very unhappy about the situation, and say that more should be ploughed back into both local roads and public transport. So what else do motorists think? Do they understand the new road tax bands and have they accepted that speed cameras save lives or are they still seen as revenue raisers?

8.1 Saving Money

On October 1, 2009 a litre of unleaded petrol cost an average 98p, on May 24, 2010 the average had soared to 120.4p. With fuel costs rising this rapidly, many motorists are driving less and looking for other ways to save money in order to fund their motoring.

Motorists were asked what specific actions they have taken to save money - and the trends of last year, some deeply worrying, have continued.

  • Twenty-five per cent have serviced or repaired their own car - up marginally from 24% last year.
  • Fourteen per cent have cancelled breakdown cover - up from 12% last year.
  • Eighteen per cent have reduced their level of breakdown cover - against 15% last year.
  • But only 28% are waiting longer between services this year, down from 32% last year.

Economy Stat

While these measures may appear to be saving money, motorists could actually be making a false economy. DIY repairs may not be as effective or as safe as those done by a professional. If they break down, having cancelled or reduced their breakdown cover, they could find themselves facing a bill for hundreds of pounds to get their car recovered to a garage and repaired.

  • Fifty-one per cent were walking more and driving less, more than a third modifying their behaviour for personal and financial reasons.
  • Forty-one per cent used public transport more, with 29% citing financial or personal reasons for the change.
  • Seventy-six per cent shopped around for car insurance.

Empty fuel tank dial

8.2 Taxation

Just over two in five motorists claim to understand the new road tax (Vehicle Excise Duty ratings) which sets the amount of tax payable based on the car's fuel type and CO2 emissions. This shows a steady increase since the measures were announced in the 2008 Budget.

Economy Stat

Motorists are not happy with the amount of tax they pay, and more importantly how it is spent.

  • Only 24% think they pay a fair price for their motoring freedom.
  • Seventy-seven per cent believe speed cameras are more about raising money than road safety.
  • Eighty per cent think utility firms should pay a fee based on the time they take on road works.
  • Eighty-three per cent also believe fines from driving offences are more about raising revenue for the Treasury rather than improving road safety.
  • Eight-six per cent don't think enough of what they pay in motoring taxation is sufficiently reinvested back into local roads.
  • Ninety per cent think all money raised through speed cameras should be spent on improving road safety.

Many motorists, especially those in rural areas, have no alternative. They don't have the option to drastically change their driving habits. They know that motorists must pay taxes to fund the road network, its administration and policing, as well as to offset the environmental impact of motoring, but two thirds want motoring taxes to be directly linked to how much a car is used. In addition, half of motorists believe it should be linked to when and where they drive. They want a fairer and more transparent system of taxation and one that rewards them with lower taxes if they use alternative modes of transport.

Government needs to demonstrate transparency and value for money from taxation revenue.

9.0 Motorists and the government

7.0 The impact of an ageing population