Motorists accept hard action needed to end congestion misery

Article date: 27 June 2006

Motorists’ growing dissatisfaction withthe driving experience has crossed a tipping point with more thantwo-thirds (68%) now prepared to accept draconian measures totackle congestion, new research reveals.

They are prepared to do a deal with government on road pricing buttheir support depends on the terms offered in return - concessionson motoring taxes and improvements in public transport and the roadnetwork.

The RAC Report on Motoring 2006 - an annual in-depth index of theviews of UK motorists - reveals:

  • 79% of motorists perceive that congestion is getting steadilyworse
  • Support for the concept of road pricing has risen 6% in twoyears, reflecting increasing frustration with congestion (from19% to 25%)
  • Nearly half of motorists (44%) support a road pricing schemeusing precise telematics technology.

The research suggests that motorists are clearabout the deal they want: 67% require a trade off on motoring tax;63% expect investment in existing roads and 43% say improvements inpublic transport are crucial. Telematics technology is also popularwith motorists and extending its benefits to include other optionssuch as in-car panic buttons could create a more positive receptionfor technology-led road pricing schemes.

Using the report findings, RAC is calling on the government to:

  • Take positive action by offering financial trade-offs tomotorists to make a persuasive case for road pricing
  • Commit to improvements in public transport
  • Work more closely with employers to improve workplace travelplans
  • Lead the debate to mandate in-car technology and provideincentives to motorists to encourage take up

Debbie Hewitt, managing director RAC,comments: “Motorists are sending a clear signal to governmentthat road pricing is a more palatable solution than it has been forthe growing problem of congestion - but they are looking to strikea deal. Government must act now to seize this opportunity to winover road users. Motorists themselves are telling us that there iswide scope to gain their support but it is critical thatpolicymakers adopt a fair basis for charging, review the impact oncurrent motoring taxes and promote the technological benefits of aroad pricing system for the idea to become a reality.”

Doing a deal
Critics suggest road pricing simplyextracts more money from motorists. Over two thirds of motoristsreveal that a financial trade-off on the motoring tax burden iscrucial for any scheme to get off the ground.

The road network’s struggle to keep pace with congestion is asource of great frustration for motorists and potentially damagingfor economic growth in the UK. In return for their support, nearlytwo thirds (63%) of motorists stress that money raised from roadpricing must be reinvested to improve existing roads.

English regions have allocated 72% of their transport budgets toroads, with the East Midlands and South East directing as much as95%1. However, the acceptability of road pricing willdepend upon the provision of a reliable and affordable alternative.Improvements in public transport are also vital if the scheme is toprove successful.

Fair and square
The basis for charging underroad pricing is uncertain with feasibility studies2suggesting up to £1.34 a mile on the busiest roads at peak times.Motorists are in no doubt that to succeed, the scheme must becalculated on a fair basis. Two thirds (66%) believe that annualmileage is the most effective method.

In another strong message for Government, more than half (55%) ofmotorists consider that charges for using town centre roads areunfair. The same number also believe that higher charges duringrush hour are unjust as do 57% of motorists when it comes tocharging for motorway use.

Tempting technology
With global positioning systemslikely to underpin any charging scheme, the report reveals thatadvanced technology presents an excellent opportunity forgovernment in winning motorists round.

Road pricing would be received even more positively if thetechnology used also offered motorists a number of driver-friendlyfeatures. Anti-theft tracking is the most highly valued facilitywith 87% of motorists indicating they would like one. Otherattractive features include re-routing gizmos to avoid hold-ups(80%), and a panic button that raises the alarm in an emergency(77%).

A full version of the report can be downloaded from www.racnews.co.uk.

-ends-

RAC Press office contact:
Chris Lauwerys or SoniaClarke or at Lexis PR on 0207 908 6465 or 0207 908 6570

Jenny Chapman or Adam Cracknell at RAC Press Office on 01603 684224or 01603 684916

Notes to editors:

1Road schemes steal from public transportin regional carve-up of transport funding: press release issued byTransport 2000, Friday 10 February 2006.
2 Taken from speech by former Transport SecretaryAlistair Darling for the Social Market Foundation examining theneed for road pricing and its potential benefits – 9 June2005.

Morpace International interviewed 1,000 regular drivers (defined asdriving at least once a month) face to face at home during Januaryand February 2006 in the UK. The RAC Report on Motoring is anannual piece of in-depth research on the views of UK motorists. Thereport surveys and analyses the state of motoring today andprovides a clear picture of how motorists view the numerouschallenges of driving and possible solutions to them. Topicscovered include congestion, technology, green motoring and roadsafety.

About RAC
With around seven million members, RAC is oneof the UK's most progressive motoring organizations, providingservices for both private and business motorists. Whether it'sroadside assistance, windscreen repair and replacement, learning todrive, vehicle inspections and checks, legal and financial servicesor up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able tomeet motorists’ needs. RAC incorporates BSM, RAC AutoWindscreens, RAC Direct Insurance and HPI.

Aviva bought RAC in May 2005. The acquisition brings together RAC'spowerful brand and customer base with the expertise and leadingposition in motor insurance of Norwich Union Insurance (part ofAviva). Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer, insuring one inseven motor vehicles and with a market share of around 14%.

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