Drivers demand traffic shake-up
28 June 2006
Fleet drivers have accepted the need for radical action to tackle the UK's congestion nightmare, but want a solution only on their own terms and have sent a clear list of demands to Government decision makers, according to the RAC Report on Motoring 2006.
The report found that 83% of company car drivers unsurprisingly feel that congestion is getting steadily worse, and nearly half now back the previously controversial road charging plans using telematics. But there are conditions attached. According to two-thirds of fleet drivers, road charging will only get motorists' support if there's a trade-off on motoring taxes, while 56% demand investment in existing roads and 67% call for investment in public transport to give drivers viable alternatives.
"Motorists have laid down the conditions pretty clearly," said David Bizley, RAC's director of technical. "It's important that those in charge of transport should realise motorists are in favour, but there are conditions attached. RAC is calling on the Government to take on-board these messages and make it clear to motorists that there will be a trade-off."
The figures show that commuting is at the heart of the UK's congestion problems, with 39% saying they drive to work most days, though that's 4% down on the 2004 figure, and another 9% making daily work-related journeys. Employers are being encouraged into a range of schemes aimed at cutting commuting, such as increased working from home, bicycle parks and showers, season train ticket loans and car sharing.
RAC is also urging the Government to introduce grants to boost the number of greener cars. The recent decision to dump the planned Low Carbon Car Fund, means there's currently no scheme to incentivise green options. "If you look at why people are choosing cars, price, styling, performance, economy, they're all taking priority over environmental performance," said Bizley. "There's got to be the right combination of education and incentives. It depends on where the Government's priorities lie, it will happen if the environment is high enough up."
Bizley also called for the Government to confirm long-term consistency of tax regime to give businesses the confidence to make green choices. "If companies are selecting vehicles on the strength of downstream tax benefits, they've got to be confident that the Treasury won't change its plans."
Other worrying findings included the statistic that 32% of fleet drivers admit to driving while over the drink drive limit "on rare occasions" despite the repeated warnings, compared to an average 19% across all motorists. Bizley said there's no discernable reason, other than the higher miles covered by business drivers leading them to be in the position of driving after a drink more often.
RAC met with a group of Government decision makers, including transport minister Stephen Ladyman, last Friday to discuss the report's findings. The survey covered 300 company car drivers among its survey of 1000 motorists.