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Celebrating 30 years of the report on motoring

Here we chart some of the main motoring milestones over the 30-year history of the Report.

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Report on motoring flashback

In this year...

The Report on Motoring asked drivers for their predictions of life on the road in 2001. 85% expected all cars to be required to use unleaded petrol, while 56% thought cars would be banned from town centres.


In this year...

When asked in 1988 what safety features motorists would particularly look for the next time they bought a car, 29% said rear seatbelts.

In this year...

Almost twice as many motorists used public transport in 2008 than in 1988, although 72% said there was a ‘pressing need for improvements and investment in public transport’ if they were to make the shift from their cars.

1989 Ford Fiesta 5 Door Seat belt Speed camera 1992 TVR Chimaera


Five-door Ford Fiesta, iconic XR2i and Mazda MX5 go on sale in the UK.


Becomes compulsory for adults to wear seatbelts in the rear of cars.


First Gatso speed camera introduced on the westbound A316 over Twickenham Bridge in Surrey.

TVR launches the Chimaera, which went on to be the British company’s biggest seller.

Airbag Background

In 1992, 57% of motorists thought that all cars would have airbags fitted as standard within 20 years.

Source: 2008 RAC Report on Motoring


Channel Tunnel passenger service opens.


Opening of the Second Severn Crossing.


Launch of the Land Rover Freelander.

European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) voluntary vehicle safety rating system created.

Channel Tunnel Severn Crossing Crash Dummy ncap 1997 Land Rover Freelander
Report on motoring flashback

In this year...

The RAC urged the Government to invest in road infrastructure and management to help cope with the inevitable increase in car use over the coming years.


In this year...

The Report on Motoring found +45% net support for for ‘a 20mph speed limit in built-up areas and safer conditions for cycling and walking’.

Mini Cooper Ariel Atom Toyota Prius Aston Martin Vanquish


The original Mini is discontinued and the first new generation MINI Hatch is introduced.

Ariel launches the UK-built Atom.


Aston Martin launches the Vanquish, the first production Aston Martin that could hit 200mph.

Toyota launches the Prius in the UK, the first commercial hybrid vehicle.


London congestion charge introduced.

Law introduced banning use of handheld phones while driving comes in.

M6 toll opened to traffic.

Speed Camera Sign Phone driving Motorway
Petrol Background

The average cost of one litre of petrol was 76.34p in October 2003 compared to 131.14p in October 2018.

Petrol Pumps
Source: RAC
Lotus Espirit Motorway Camera Motorway Traffic


End of production of the Lotus Esprit, which famously turned into a submarine in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me.


Scotland’s first average speed camera system is installed on a 32-mile stretch of the A77.


UK’s first stretch of ‘managed motorway’ – the forerunner to today’s smart motorway – opens on the M42 in the West Midlands.


Portsmouth becomes first to introduce a city-wide 20mph speed limit on all residential streets.

Nissan launches the UK-built Qashqai, setting the trend for a whole new crossover segment.

MPH Sign Nissan Qashqai
Report on motoring flashback

In this year...

60% of drivers said they thought the increased cost of motoring was one of the biggest changes of the previous 20 years – even though motoring-related expenses had actually fallen in real terms since 1988.


In this year...

Two-thirds of motorists in 2008 agreed that taxing a vehicle based on CO2 emissions was, in principle, a good thing.

In this year...

92% of motorists thought that drivers in the UK had become more dependent on their cars and more car-focused than in 1988.


Automatic emergency braking introduced on high-end vehicles.


Nissan Leaf becomes the UK’s first mass-produced electric vehicle.

Islington Council becomes the first London borough to introduce a blanket 20mph zone.

Toyota launches the Mirai, the world’s first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell vehicle – emitting just water and heat.

Fuel duty on petrol and diesel was reduced by 1p to 57.95p from its highest ever level of 58.95p.

Nissan Leaf 20mph Limit Toyota FCV
Petrol Station EU Flags Clamp


Average UK fuel prices hit record highs of 142p per litre for unleaded and 148p for diesel.

EU introduces new rules forcing insurers to charge men and women the same prices for the same insurance products.

Wheel clamping of vehicles on private land banned in England and Wales.

Motorway Background

Support for a higher speed limit on motorways fell from 75% in 2010 to just 62% in 2012.



Source: 2012 RAC Report on Motoring
Motorway Mitsubishi Outlander Motorway Tesla Tax Disc


New penalties introduced to tackle tailgating and middle lane hogging.


Mitsubishi launches a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle version of the Outlander which goes on to become the most popular PHEV.

First ‘smart’ all-lane running motorway section opens on the M25 between junctions 23 and 25.

Tesla Model S, the follow-up to Tesla Motors’ Roadster electric sports car, is launched in the UK.

Vehicle tax disc scrapped.


Drug-driving law in England and Wales updated to include eight general prescription and 8 illicit drugs.

Scotland reduces the legal alcohol limit from 80mg to 50mg in every 100ml of blood.

Pills Drinking
Wheel Background

Half of motorists said the condition of roads in their area had deteriorated over the course of the past year, with 30% saying local road investment should be the top priority for government transport investment.

Source: 2015 RAC Report on Motoring
Land Rover Defender Phone Driving Production Line


Production of the Land Rover Defender ends.


Penalty for using a handheld phone while driving doubled to six points and a £200 fine after the 2016 Report on Motoring found illegal phone use at the wheel had reached epidemic proportions.

The Government confirms that it will end the sale of all new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040, as it unveiled new plans to tackle air pollution.


30th edition of the Report on Motoring is published.