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Roddy Graham's Blog: April

Date: 25 April 2007

Roddy Graham is chairman of the ICFM and commercial director of Leasedrive Velo

I read with interest Edmund King's column in the motoring supplement of The Independent yesterday...

25 April 2007: Popular road pricing is an oxymoron

I read with interest Edmund King's column in the motoring supplement of The Independent yesterday.

Edmund is the executive director of the RAC Foundation. He advocates that we need to make road pricing popular to gain acceptance.

Sorry, but when will an increase in costs be popular? More palatable perhaps, but not more popular.

Anyway, he rightly draws attention to the 1.8 million of us who bombarded Downing Street with a petition against road pricing. In most cases, I believe people feared the further encroachment of Big Brother with the fitment of black boxes tracking our every movement. Where the Government is concerned, I certainly do!

I would like to highlight at this point that I am very keen on the use of telematics technology for fleet management and health and safety management. Clearly if manufacturers decided to fit this as standard then there would be a gradual move toward using this as a tool for tracking and possibly charging road use.

As there is no sign that this will happen in the near future we must identify a simple method of ensuring that even the rogues and criminals who drive unregistered, untaxed and uninsured cars pay for the privilege of using our road network if the rest of us law abiding citizens have to!

Anyway, as I have highlighted in my blogs before, when did Government get the introduction of technology right. And will they get it right, without losing revenue, on their biggest technological challenge yet?

I very much doubt it!

Edmund King advocates a 'UK Drive Time' bundle, whatever that means, with participants benefiting from a range of discount packages. A bit like a loyalty card. He reckons if only 10% signed up, it would be a move in the right direction.

Oh yeah, what's the point?

He goes on to highlight an experiment in Portland, Oregon, USA where a meter fitted to cars communicates with the filling station pumps, calculates the cost of mileage between refills, deducts fuel duty and adds mileage charge instead. I still don't get it. Why not just levy charges at the fuel pumps? It's so much simpler!

The higher the charge, the more likely are motorists going to consider whether a car journey is really essential and the more likely a high fuel pump charge is going to drive motorists to more economical and greener cars. Why make the whole question so complicated?

A direct charge at the pumps is the simplest, most fool-proof way of charging drivers for use of their vehicles, allied to congestion charging in our larger towns and cities.

17 April 2007: Ski patrol

I have just come back from a week's skiing in France, hence my silence, and it struck me just how controlled we are getting by legislation.

On the pistes, there is a code which all skiers are required to adhere to. However, I am sure before long it will become enshrined in law. Already the sale of alcoholic beverages is banned on the slopes in the USA and, with children required to wear safety helmets in several European countries and noticeably more adults wearing them too, it won't be long before everyone is required to wear them too.

The problem with all of this is that we're all losing our sense of 'fun', we're all getting wrapped in cotton wool (and legislation), with the chief beneficiaries being the 'ambulance chasers'!

Sure, I want people to be injury-free and live longer but it's all becoming a bit absurd at times. Ask anyone responsible for fleet and a prime concern is ensuring compliance with legislation and duty of care. All well and good, as long as the legislation is reasonable. The trouble is we risk becoming a namby-pamby state.

My disdain for the Government and politicians in general has been well documented in previous blogs and articles - however we must all question our administration's sense of priorities when they spend endless days of precious Government time on the Fox Hunting Bill, which we all know the majority of sensible people opposed while law and order, immigration, health and education are constantly failing.

I will not revisit the stupidity of their aspirations for road charging at the moment - but come on you great European and global administrations - let's focus on important issues and leave us, the voters, with some fun, adventure and common sense!