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Urgent call to address motorists' key concerns: RAC's plea to Labour Government

The RAC has called on the newly elected Labour Government to prioritise the urgent issues affecting the UK’s 40 million motorists in its upcoming transport policy. The pressing concerns outlined by the RAC include the deteriorating state of local roads, escalating insurance premiums, and persistently high fuel prices, which feature prominently in the forthcoming RAC Report on Motoring 2024.

For the second consecutive year, the condition and upkeep of local roads has been highlighted as the primary issue. The RAC advocates for significant investment in this area, proposing that the £8.3bn from the cancelled northern leg of HS2 be redirected into local road improvements over the next 11 years. Additionally, they suggest using the funds from the deferred A27 Arundel bypass to enhance road maintenance. The RAC stresses the need for long-term, guaranteed funding for councils to enable consistent road upkeep, moving towards preventive maintenance rather than the current reactive approach of filling potholes. They also recommend collaborative efforts with industry bodies to address the root causes of poor road conditions.

Rising insurance costs are the second biggest concern for motorists, particularly affecting younger drivers. The RAC urges the Government to investigate insurance premiums through the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and to reduce the Insurance Premium Tax from its current 12%. These measures aim to alleviate the financial burden on drivers, especially the younger and more inexperienced, who typically face higher premiums.

Despite a slight decrease in concern since 2023, fuel costs remain a significant issue for drivers. The RAC calls for the establishment of the Pumpwatch scheme to ensure that fuel prices are fair and transparent across the country. They also recommend maintaining the current 5p duty cut on fuel until at least Spring 2026, or until the Pumpwatch scheme is effectively implemented to deliver fairer prices for motorists.

Dangerous driving and road safety continue to be major concerns. The RAC suggests reintroducing formal road casualty reduction targets, which were scrapped in 2010, to give road safety the attention and resources it deserves. They also advocate for converting all-lane running stretches of smart motorways to controlled motorways, restoring hard shoulders where possible, to address ongoing driver dissatisfaction. Introducing a Graduated Driving Licensing (GDL) scheme is also recommended to improve safety for new drivers. Additionally, the RAC calls for funding independent research into headlight glare and a crackdown on excessive speeding in collaboration with police forces and road safety organisations.

With a slowdown in new electric vehicle (EV) registrations, the RAC suggests several measures to support the transition to EVs. These include reintroducing a plug-in car grant to make electric vehicles more affordable, reducing VAT on public EV charging to match the 5% levied on domestic electricity, and adopting the RAC and FairCharge Charging Charter to ensure accessibility and price transparency for all drivers.

To protect household finances, the RAC advises publishing the revised Parking Code of Practice to curb unfair fines by private parking operators and ensuring that councils enforce new moving traffic offence powers fairly. They highlight the need for updated guidance to ensure that drivers are not unnecessarily fined.

Lastly, the rising cost of parking has deterred many from visiting town centres. The RAC recommends ensuring that drivers have at least two payment methods for parking, including contactless and mobile options. They also suggest expanding the National Parking Platform to allow for unified payment options across different councils.

As the new government sets its transport agenda, the RAC's comprehensive recommendations highlight the critical areas needing immediate attention to improve the motoring experience for millions across the UK. These measures aim to address the most pressing concerns of motorists and ensure fairer, safer, and more efficient driving conditions nationwide.

RAC Head of Policy, Simon Williams, said: “Roads ravaged with potholes. Drivers ripped off at the pumps. No progress on reducing road casualties. To say the incoming Transport Secretary has a lot to address is a huge understatement, but a new Parliament is a huge opportunity to improve the lives of all road users.

“Top of the list has to be the thorny issue of fixing Britain’s broken roads which will sadly take far more money than the promised £320m from scrapping the A27 Arundel bypass. And the roads funding hole will be even bigger if the previous government’s commitment to spend £8.3bn from the cancelled northern leg of HS2 on improving roads isn’t honoured.

“But there are some clear quick wins the new government can take advantage of, should it choose to. The recently legislated Pumpwatch fuel price monitoring scheme must be introduced quickly to give drivers a fairer deal on the forecourt and the official government Private Parking Code of Practice, which will protect drivers from being taken advantage of by unscrupulous parking operators, finally needs to be pushed over the line after five years of delays.

“We also want to see the National Parking Platform rolled out as soon as possible so drivers can use one app of their choice to pay for all their parking. Alongside this, we want a firm commitment from the Government to ensure drivers always have at least two means of payment. As surprising as it might seem, cash is still the preferred payment method for many.

“We look forward to working constructively with the new government on all the major issues affecting the nation’s drivers.”


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