The latest annual report from the RAC contains a great many surprises and, at times, is sympathetic to the alternatives to mass car use.
In a forward for the 2011 report, petrol-head journalist Quentin Wilson said:
"The sense of abandonment felt by UK motorists has never been as acute as it is today. Drivers clearly think that the anti-car culture hasn’t changed and many are saying that driving has become a cheerless and unaffordable chore."
In the 2012 report there’s a green-tinged contribution from Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of the Campaign for Better Transport and the foreword is far less motor-myopic despite being written by racing driver Eddie Ervine.
Ervine wrote: "I understand better than most the power of a motor car and more importantly its fragility. Driven badly they put both the driver and others on the road around them in danger. I am constantly alarmed by the speed and carelessness of some drivers today."
Alongside the as-expected calls for lower fuel prices, the RAC’s twenty-fourth annual report shows that the criminality of many motorists is not seen as such. 87 percent of company car drivers admit to speeding on motorways, says the RAC’s report, from a survey of 1002 motorists.
David Bizley, RAC technical director, said: “It is worrying that such a high number of company car drivers are breaking speed limits and view this as somehow less serious than other motoring offences. Good business must not come at the expense of road safety."
The report says: "There appears to be a fundamental lack of understanding about the social impact of speeding and the increasing likelihood of fatalities and serious injuries as speeds rise. This, and a perceived lack of police presence, has engendered a lax attitude to speeding amongst a significant proportion of motorists."
46 percent of motorists admitted to speeding in a 30mph limit. 83 percent admit to being regular speeders on all roads. The number of drivers aged 25-44 accessing social media on their smartphones whilst driving has increased by 50 percent. Despite this, 92 percent of all those motorists questioned in the survey believed they were law-abiding.
While speeding and use of mobile phones while driving continues to be a problem on Britain’s roads, the RAC report shows that many motorists are cutting back on hours behind the steering wheel.
"Motorists are continuing to give up important day-to-day activities by car as a result of the high cost of motoring," says the report. "Motorists have cut out all superfluous car journeys and amalgamated others wherever possible."
According to the RAC, 58 percent of urban motorists said they walked or cycled more and left the car at home. With this decreasing dependence on the car, motorists now want more money spent on alternatives to the car. The RAC found that "30 percent [of motorists] wanted money spent on better provisions for cyclists as a priority."
If alternatives to the car aren’t provided, Britain risks becoming a fractured society, believes the RAC:
"Motorists and their families risk becoming isolated as they can no longer afford to visit friends and family or attend social gatherings. This could eventually lead to a disconnected and dysfunctional society where the only affordable social interaction for the less affluent is via a computer or phone from their home."
Writing in the RAC’s report the Campaign for Better Transport’s Stephen Joseph said: “Government needs to use planning powers and fuel tax income to unhook people from car dependence and give them real and attractive alternatives to more of their car journeys.”
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