Only 22 pc of £40 billion raised spent on road maintenance and improvement
NINE OUT OF TEN motorists say they are ‘sitting ducks’ for the Treasury as the Government collects more than £40bn a year in motoring taxation – with Britain’s roads crumbling into one big pothole and storing up a huge bill for the future.
The pitiful condition of the country’s motorways and local roads, characterised by the now year-round problem of potholes, ranks as a top concern for motorists in this year’s RAC report on motoring – the longest-running annual survey of drivers, now in its 25th year.*
While the cost of driving is understandably still the number one concern for nearly half (46 per cent) of Britain’s battle-scarred and beleaguered motorists, two in five (41pc) say maintenance of local roads and motorways is their top spending priority. In addition, 84pc of motorists believe their local roads are deteriorating and three-quarters (75pc) think the same about motorways and other major roads.
But the question most motorists just cannot get to grips with is: “Why isn’t more of the money collected in motoring taxation ring-fenced for maintaining roads?” A shocking four out of five drivers (78pc) think the money they pay to Government through motoring taxes is not properly invested in local roads, says the report.
It also found that 90pc of the UK’s nearly 30 million car drivers are unhappy or blind to the overall balance of motoring taxation that sees more than £40bn being raised for the Treasury – with only around 22pc spent improving and maintaining our national and local roads.
A third of motorists surveyed said they are prepared to pay tolls for motorway driving (29pc) or city centre congestion charges (33) IF the cost of fuel and car tax was significantly reduced – perhaps signalling a new model for taxing the motorist.
With nine in 10 (89pc) relying more than ever on their vehicles for day-to day activities than 25 years ago and more than three quarters (77%) claiming they are struggling to make ends meet because of the cost of fuel, the RAC is now calling on the Government to take urgent action to review the nation’s outdated motoring taxation model.
Unsurprisingly, motorists said that tax levied on fuel and Vehicle Excise Duty (car tax) should represent a smaller share of what they pay. More than 22m drivers (77pc) would prefer to pay less fuel tax and half (49pc) would like to pay lower levels of car tax.
The RAC says: ” Without proper investment in local roads the Government will be responsible for overseeing a massive decline in the state of our highways which negatively affects consumers and businesses alike, stalls the economy and stores up a huge ‘problem’ bill for future tax payers.
“With revenue from fuel duty falling year on year as people drive fewer miles in more fuel efficient vehicles, the RAC report on motoring shows there is a real need for a new way of taxing motorists.”
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “Our report on motoring shows that Britain’s motorists – and roads – have been left battle-scarred after a further 12 months of bearing the burden of extreme financial conditions.
“Despite this, motorists are willing to pay their taxes, but want the balance of levies to reflect how they live and how the use their vehicle. “The report suggests that motorists would prefer to see a higher share of motoring taxation levied on those things over which they have greater control – such as whether or not they choose to drive into city centres or use a particular motorway.
“Our research shows that the UK motorist isn’t being unreasonably demanding – all he or she wants is for more of their motoring taxation to be spent on roads.
“What’s needed is an in-depth review of the overall motoring taxation model and for a reasonable percentage of money raised from drivers to be ring-fenced for roads – that way the ‘unlucky’ motorist can be rid of the 2013 plague of the all-year-round pothole.”
The full 2013 Report on Motoring can be downloaded free-of-charge from www.rac.co.uk/reportonmotoring
. Join the conversation on Twitter: #ROM2013
* Report on Motoring utilises research from a sample of 1,542 British drivers.
RAC URGES MOTORISTS TO ‘TAKE COVER’ IF HEADING FOR EUROPE
– and obtain that International Driving Permit!
THE ESTIMATED one in three British motorists who don’t take out breakdown cover before travelling to Europe are being warned by the RAC: Think again.
Every year the RAC handles more than 50,000 calls from customers who break down in mainland Europe needing specialist assistance. Last year, the five most common countries for UK drivers to break down in were: France (60pc); Germany (nine pc); Spain (nine pc); Belgium (five pc) and Italy (four pc).
The top problems experienced by UK drivers are: engine faults – 21pc; tyres – 11pc; accidents – seven pc; and gearbox and clutch issues – five pc.
RAC European Breakdown figures also revealed hundreds of vehicles that break down abroad each year require repatriation to the UK. Drivers with older cars should take heed as 70pc of breakdowns abroad occur with cars that are more than five years old, while nearly four in 10 (37pc) repatriations dealt with by the RAC in 2012 were for cars that were more than nine years old.
And, as the number of Britons choosing to save on air fares and take European road trips increases exponentially each year, the number of breakdowns and repatriations is only going to rise further.
According to the RAC’s statistics, Brits who break down abroad without adequate breakdown cover could be faced with a hefty average bill of up to £1,000 if they break down in France, but double that amount if they find themselves stranded further afield for example, in Southern Spain or Italy, and their car needs to be recovered and returned to the UK. This could mean some unfortunate motorists face the prospect of actually paying nearly as much as the cost of their holiday just to get their car back home.
For more information, visit www.rac.co.uk/breakdown-cover/
euro-breakdown or to get a quote, call 0870 333 2784. To find out country-specific driving requirements, visit the Driving Abroad pages in the Travel section on www.rac.co.uk.
OBTAIN THAT INTERNATIONAL DRIVING PERMIT!
Most holidaymakers are rigorous about checking they have certain documents in hand, such as: passports, plane tickets, boarding passes, insurance documents and their driving licence before they set off. But many travelling to countries outside the EU risk getting caught out if they plan to drive and don’t apply for an International Driving Permit (IDP).
The warning comes from the RAC which says that on 1 January this year, a new law was introduced in the state of Florida in the USA making it compulsory for anyone holding a foreign driving licence to carry an IDP, creating confusion among some British holidaymakers. The law may be repealed and is not enforceable at this time; however the RAC strongly recommends motorists obtain an IDP if they are planning a trip anywhere in the USA.
An IDP allows motorists to drive vehicles overseas without further tests or applications and is required in many countries including Egypt, Thailand and India. It is also recommended in countries such as Mexico, Hong Kong, Canada and the USA.
RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “We are warning drivers to double check they have the necessary documentation before they travel. “Driving without an IDP where it is required by law could land you in trouble with the authorities and you may even be refused a hire car. “And in some countries, if you are involved in an accident, insurance companies will insist on seeing your IDP in addition to your driving licence and insurance papers.
“As the driver, it is your responsibility to ensure you have all the necessary documentation needed to comply with the requirements of immigration, customs, health and other relevant regulations. “It is therefore vital you don’t assume anything and do your research well in advance of your trip to allow sufficient time to get all the necessary paperwork in order.
“Our advice to drivers is simple – don’t drive abroad unprepared. “Do your homework before you leave the country and ensure you have all the appropriate paperwork and carry on essentials you need to avoid any unnecessary hassles or stress while you’re supposed to be having a break from it all.”
To help motorists planning to drive overseas, the RAC is offering the following advice:
Check your driving licence – Always make sure your driving licence is current and valid.
Do you need an IDP? – Generally, UK driving licences are accepted throughout the EU; however always double check before you travel. The RAC has a full listing of individual countries’ requirements and you can order your IDP by post from the RAC. Visit: www.rac.co.uk/travel/driving-
abroad for more information.
Taking your vehicle overseas outside Europe? – If so, you may need a ‘Carnet de Passage en Douanes’. This is an internationally recognised Customs document entitling the holder to temporarily import a vehicle duty-free into countries which normally require a deposit against import charges. The RAC is the only issuer of Carnet de Passage en Douanes in the UK. Visit www.rac.co.uk/travel/driving-
abroad/carnet-de-passage for further details.
Make sure you’re covered – Never go on holiday without travel insurance. You also need to check with your insurance company that you are fully insured to drive abroad and covered for any medical expenses resulting from an accident. If you’re driving to Europe, the RAC provides travel insurance especially for self-drive holidays. We also offer European Breakdown cover to help keep you on the road and ensure your trip is worry free. To get a quote, call 0870 333 2784.
Does your vehicle comply? – Some countries have different vehicle requirements and you need to check your vehicle complies before you travel. E.g. at certain times of the year, winter tyres may be compulsory in some countries.
Car essentials – The regulations of what you need to carry with you in your vehicle when you’re abroad differs from country to country. E.g. in the UK, you are not advised to carry your vehicle ownership (V5 log book), however in many European countries, if you don’t, you could be subject to a fine. Another example is the new regulation in France which means you must carry a French authority-certified breathalyser in your vehicle at all times.
Obey the laws of the land – You need to familiarise yourself with the driving laws of the country you are visiting. This includes local speed limits and which side of the road they drive on! Visit www.rac.co.uk/travel/driving-
abroad to make sure you’re familiar with the local rules before you go.
Do a maintenance check – Ensure your vehicle is in tip top condition before you travel and double check you have the numbers to call if your vehicle breaks down.
TOLL ROADS WOULD BE UNPOPULAR
Ninety-one per cent of motorists do not trust the government to reinvest money made from tolls on new roads, according to a survey* by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).
A total of 56pc of respondents said that they would use rural or local roads to avoid the toll charges, if a toll was enforced on their local motorway. And 41 pc wouldn’t support toll roads even if other types of tax were reduced.
IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “The cost of motoring is currently at an all-time high, and it’s clear that the idea of bringing in toll roads has no support among everyday motorists. “A toll on motorways, our safest roads, may force motorists on to more dangerous rural roads, to save money.”
“The government has a very hard job ahead to convince drivers that tolls are the only way to deliver new roads and improve existing ones. Only by reducing other motoring taxes can this policy gain the support of the motorist.”
1. IAM survey – toll roads – 2, 519 respondents.
GOVERNMENT CUTS £15 MILLION FROM ROAD SAFETY CAMPAIGNS
“£78,000 for child and teenage road safety campaigns virtually insignificant” say IAM
GOVERNMENT SPENDING on road safety campaigns has been cut from £19 million in 2008/09 to just £4 million in 2011/12. The cut of nearly 80 per cent was revealed after a Freedom of Information enquiry by road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists.
The Department for Transport is planning on spending £3.57 million on road safety in the 2012/13 financial year which will see:
£53,000 spent on cyclist safety
£78,000 on child and teenager road safety
£50,000 on research into young drivers
£1.275 million on motorcycle campaigns; and
£1.689 million on drink-drive campaigns.
The IAM says every fatal road accident costs the UK £1.7 million. “In 2011 the total cost of fatal road accidents was £3.2 billion, with immeasurable emotional and social costs.”
IAM director of policy Neil Greig said: “Right across the public sector road safety is being cut too hard and too quickly, despite the huge returns on investment. “One life saved saves the economy £1.7 million. “£53,000 is a derisory amount to spend on national cycle safety campaigns. “Until we have the right roads infrastructure in place, publicity and education campaigns are one of the few tools we have to help us save cyclists lives. “£78,000 for children’s safety campaigns is virtually insignificant. “If the government is serious about safety for these groups, these amounts must be increased. “
“The successful drink driving and biker campaigns have raised awareness of these issues and they both appear to be working. “The government needs to match that kind of expenditure and take the safety of children and cyclists seriously,”
MEN: WANT A DATE? GET A CAR!
MEN LOOKING for love need to make sure they can drive and have their own car, according to new research which found women really do prefer a man who can get about town… on four wheels.
A poll of more than 1,000 motorists conducted by the RAC revealed that being able to drive was an attractive quality for both sexes, but that it is far more important in a woman’s eyes as 64 per cent of ‘girls’ admitted they found ‘boys’ who could drive more attractive, as opposed to just over a third (35pc) of men.
And, half of the women surveyed (49pc) said they wanted their potential dates to own a car, whereas having a car only mattered to two fifths of men (21pc).
What’s more, the car seems to be so important to Brits that as many 59pc claim to actually ‘love’ their car, with a further 20pc admitting they even have a pet name for their vehicle – only a few per cent less than those who said they had pet names for their partners (27%).
Some of the most peculiar pet names recorded were Robert Red Ford, The Delta Flyer, Sexy Lady Va Va Voom, Chuggy, Daniel Defoe, and Dita Von Jeep. The most common pet name that emerged was Betsy, closely followed by Baby.
Strangely, and perhaps most surprisingly, some 15pc of people said they even considered cars to be ‘a romantic setting’.