Road Block For Fleets?

Business car drivers could be hit with increased costs of congestion, high road charges, bureaucratic administration, and high fuel prices unless the Government produces a fair and comprehensive package of measures to counter traffic congestion. These will be the conclusions from Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation, speaking at the Business Car Conference today (24th May).

The conference delegates will be told that there are several problems or potential problems facing fleet drivers, including:

  • Congestion already costs at least £20 billion pa
  • Delays to road improvements
  • Fuel prices are at record levels and could rise
  • Proposals to introduce road pricing
  • Company car tax changes
  • Stricter parking regimes
  • More cameras
  • Proposals for Intelligent Speed Adaptation

The conference will also be told that there are several short-term measures to help the fleet driver including:

  • Better route planning
  • Better real time traffic information
  • Satellite navigation and congestion avoidance systems
  • Improved post accident clearance by Highways Agency traffic officers
  • Merge/de-merge lanes
  • Clearer road signs
  • Regional Traffic Control Centres

The Foundation will also set out various challenges that the Government should address if they are to improve traffic conditions on the roads in the UK. Any form of national road pricing will not be acceptable unless the Government can win the trust of the driver. This will be impossible unless:

  • The charges are fair, balanced by reductions in other motoring taxes, and be overseen by an independent body.
  • At least part of the proceeds must be re-invested in road transport, and be additional to current spending commitments.
  • There must be a clear timetable for implementation, and time to allow people time to adjust their travel routines.
  • There must be protection of privacy.
  • There must be protection for the least well off - road pricing must not be used to drive those on low incomes off the roads.
RAC Foundation polls also show that if the Government agreed to the RAC Foundation’s conditions of acceptance then support for pricing would grow.

Seventy nine per cent of motorists now think there should be an independent body set up to safeguard the interests of road users. If such a body were in place a majority of motorists would be confident that the Government could deliver a fair scheme. Without such guarantees 87% of motorists would not trust the Government to deliver.

King will also question the recent announcement from new Transport Secretary, Douglas Alexander that the debate about road pricing should not "be when, but how" by stressing that it could only be achieved if politicians divorce themselves from proceedings. King said:

"How can the public trust any politician to deliver on road pricing when the Mayor of London has blatantly moved the goalposts? Three years ago we were told that the charge would be £5 for ten years, it has since increased 60% to £8 and now there is talk of a 100% increase to £10. The only way road pricing can be advanced in this country is through an independent body to oversee the scheme.

"We need a longer term transport policy with increased investment in the road infrastructure to break the current road block".

24 May 2006 Staff

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