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Executive Summary

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There are 30 million drivers in the UK, many of whom use their car each day for commuting to work, transporting their families and carrying out social activities.

This Report provides a comprehensive snapshot of their behaviour and attitudes to motoring in 2012. It includes their opinions on the vehicles they own, the reasons they drive, Government transport policy and the behaviour of other drivers. It is based on research from a sample of 1,002 British drivers and commentary from a panel of motoring experts.

There are a number of key findings in this year’s Report which include:

  • The cost of motoring remains the primary concern for drivers in 2012. 30% of motorists say this is their primary concern, and 61% that it is one of their top five motoring concerns. Over half of drivers have cut down or combined the journeys they take this year, the majority in order to cut costs.
  • Motorists are continuing to give up important day-to-day activities by car as a result of the high cost of motoring. Rural drivers, who have little viable alternative to the car, continue to suffer in particular from high costs. 85% of people who live in the countryside say they would find it very difficult to adjust their lifestyle to being without a car, compared to 69% of urban dwellers.
  • While motorists are driving less to save money, the remaining essential journeys they take mean drivers feel more dependent on their cars than previously. 31% of motorists feel more dependent on their vehicle than one year ago, and 45% are more dependent now than five years ago on their car. Those with children feel this is especially the case.
  • Concerns about road safety and the behaviour of other drivers have increased across the board in 2012. Three of the top five concerns held by motorists are now about the behaviour of other drivers and only 22% of motorists say they feel safer on the roads than ever before. Conversely, 54% of drivers feel safer in their own vehicles than ever before, as technology improves in-car safety.
  • There is growing evidence that cuts in budgets for road safety campaigns run by Government are having an effect on driver behaviour. The number of motorists aged 17-24 driving under the influence of drugs has nearly doubled from 5% in 2011 to 9% in 2012. Likewise, the number of drivers aged 25-44 accessing social media on their smartphones whilst driving has increased by 50%.
  • Support for a higher speed limit on motorways remains high, but has fallen from 75% in 2010 to just 62% in 2012. The majority of motorists also believe that if the motorway limit is increased to 80mph, most people will drive at 90mph.
  • There remains little support for investment in large scale transport projects with only 16% of motorists ranking the new high speed rail link in their top five transport investment priorities. 83% of drivers rank investment in maintenance of their local roads as a top five priority, and 75% want investment in maintenance of existing motorways.

1.0 Introduction