Report on Motoring 2019

Calls to action from the RAC

Following the findings from the 2019 RAC Report on Motoring, the RAC would like to see the following changes to national and local government policy:

Helping drivers with costs

Fuel duty

We urge the Government not to increase fuel duty, given the higher costs drivers are facing at the pumps due to the volatility in the global oil market and the lower value of the pound.

Insurance Premium Tax (IPT)

The RAC urges the Treasury to freeze IPT as insurance costs continue to be a significant concern for motorists. The RAC also calls on the Government to reduce the IPT rate for younger drivers who take up telematics ‘black box’ insurance policies.

Fully implement the Parking (Code of Practice) Act 2019

The RAC played an integral role in helping to bring this act to the statute book. We now encourage the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to set up the working group that will bring the new national parking code of practice into operation. The basis of this code should be a single, independent appeals’ process and a clampdown on certain practices – such as incentivising ticketing – within the private parking sector.

Improving our roads

Secure the future of our local roads

We call on the Government to recognise the strategic importance of local roads and publish a long-term strategy and funding provision for local roads. This will give local authorities the funding certainty required to maintain and improve the condition of the roads they control. The RAC estimates the Treasury could do this by ringfencing just 2p per litre from existing fuel duty revenues which would secure £4.7bn of additional funding for local roads over a five-year period.

Road Investment Strategy 2

The Government’s second Road Investment Strategy (RIS 2) should carefully consider the findings of this year’s Report on Motoring. While performance metrics for RIS 2 should continue to look closely at road surface quality, there is growing dissatisfaction at levels of litter, the condition of roadside infrastructure, such as safety barriers, and the visibility of signage due to overgrown foliage. Highways England and the Office of Rail and Road should consider including targets within the strategy to improve these aspects of the strategic road  network.

Road safety

New approach to roads policing

The RAC welcomes the Government review into roads policing. While we believe increasing the number of roads police officers is the most important aspect to be reviewed, we urge the Department for Transport and the Home Office to consider how new types of enforcement technology could be used to reduce illegal behaviour at the wheel, such as the use of handheld mobile phones while driving.

The RAC understands there is new technology available to detect illegal phone use at the wheel and would urge the Home Office to work with the police to trial such systems with a view to them being formally adopted if they are found to be effective.

Smart motorways

The RAC continues to encourage Highways England to retrofit SOS areas to existing stretches of smart motorway to increase their frequency, to give drivers a greater chance of reaching one if required and reduce the likelihood of live-lane incidents.

We also call on Highways England to do more to communicate understanding of smart motorways to drivers, including what to do in the event of a breakdown, and ask that the organisation closely monitors the number of live-lane incidents on stretches of ‘all lane running’ motorways and the impact this has on safety and congestion overall. In addition, we urge Highways England to install the latest technology to detect live-lane incidents involving stationary vehicles to ensure lane closures are carried out quickly and effectively.

Drink-drive limit

Our research shows the number of motorists admitting to driving over the legal limit has remained high in 2019. The RAC calls on the Government and police forces to continue communicating the dangers of drink-driving and to ensure enforcement is given sufficient priority so that offenders can expect to get caught. The Government should carry out a review into the effectiveness of reducing the blood alcohol limit to 50mg/100ml in England and Wales in line with those in Scotland and many other European countries.

Slow down, move over

The RAC urges both the Department for Transport and Highways England to adopt the ‘slow down, move over when safe to do so’ campaign when drivers are approaching broken-down vehicles on motorways or dual carriageways. We would also like to see this rule included within the Highway Code.

National review of speed limits

Our research findings in 2019 show that compliance with speed limits remains a concern. We encourage the Government as part of its road safety strategy to look closely at guidance relating to the setting of speed limits to make sure they are appropriate for the road environment.

The environment and the future of our roads

Electric vehicles

The RAC’s research suggests more is required to encourage take-up of zero-emission vehicles. The cuts to the plug-in car grant in 2018 were a retrograde step and we believe the Government should enhance the incentives to switch to the cleanest, least polluting vehicles. We urge the Government to extend the plug-in car grant for at least another three years to help those that want to go electric, but who are put off by the high initial purchase costs. Alongside this, the RAC believes improved and easier charging access for consumers should remain a priority.

In addition, local authorities should look closely at mechanisms to encourage take-up of the ‘cleanest’ vehicles, including easier and cheaper parking rates and access to bus lanes, while the Government could also exempt zero-emission vehicles from toll routes.

Taxation review

The RAC believes there is now scope for the Treasury to review the future of motoring taxation as the tipping point towards far greater electric vehicle take-up approaches. We believe that such a review must consider the views of drivers and present a fair, new approach in terms of how we pay for our roads as fuel duty revenues decline in the future.

Consumer awareness of Clean Air Zones

In 2020 the UK’s first Clean Air Zones will be introduced in some larger UK cities. Drivers of vehicles which are deemed to be too polluting may be required to pay a charge to enter these cities. We believe it is essential that individuals and businesses that may face charges have access to a national online vehicle checker so they can use registration plate details to find out their vehicles’ Euro emissions standards. The RAC continues to call on the Government to prioritise this as a matter of urgency.

Pavement parking

The RAC recognises that anti-social parking can have a huge impact on vulnerable road users and we welcome the review into how to reduce the prevalence of this. We do not favour a blanket ban as we believe this could have unintended consequences such as shifting parking problems elsewhere and narrow roads becoming inaccessible to larger vehicles such as fire engines, ambulances or refuse collection vehicles. However, we believe there is a case to review the clarity of the law overall, the enforcement powers of local authorities and amend the Highway Code to make it clear to drivers of what is and is not acceptable.

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