Election 2010

Transport in election black hole

27 April 2010

Get in the right lane with motoring policies, UK drivers beg politicians

Get in the right lane with motoring policies, UK drivers beg politicians

Drivers in the UK are nervously watching UK politicians side-step the crucial motoring issues that could decide how 43 million driving licence holders will go about their daily lives in the next four years – and if they can afford it, says the AA.

Foremost in their mind is the fear that the 'wrong' election result could devalue the pound against the dollar. AA research shows that, at current wholesale prices, a mere 10th of a dollar loss in value of the pound will add around 3.5p to the pump price of petrol – already at a record high.

"Transport has hardly featured in the election campaigns to-date. A passing mention was made of high-speed rail in one of the TV debates but, apart from that, there has been silence. Yet transport issues affect the vast majority of the population every day of the week, whether it is the high cost of fuel, traffic congestion, lack of parking or potholes. We urge the 43 million motorists to push the political parties on all these issues. Transport issues seem to be in an election black hole," says Edmund King, the AA's President.

Driver opinion vs manifesto

Comparing manifestos against driver opinion, the AA finds:


  • Move away from static speed cameras, and introduce drug analysing devices: Seventy per cent of AA Populus panel members support cameras and a remedy for drug driving is needed.
  • Make companies that dig up roads pay for congestion: Drivers welcome initiatives to reduce roadworks misery and other traffic bottlenecks. 77% of 8,110 AA members agree that companies that dig up roads should pay for the inconvenience.
  • Consult on introducing a fuel price stabiliser: This is very important for drivers, not without problems of implementation, but would offer protection from volatile prices. 67% of 17,480 AA members say they are cutting back on car use, other expenditure or both.
  • High speed rail link: Investment in high speed rail, perhaps at the expense of roads, would lead to further congestion. Only a small minority of people will use high-speed rail on a daily basis but the majority of people use road transport every day. Of 18,547 AA members, 7% say they use public transport daily and 9% once or twice a week.
  • Some new roads, but funded by tolls: Most drivers welcome new roads, but are less keen on tolls. Of 11,388 AA members, 65% said they would never use a pay-for-use motorway lane.
  • General support for environmentally friendly, electric and zero emission vehicles and transport initiatives: This is generally welcomed. Of 17,481 AA members, 62% wanted a more fuel efficient car, 32% a hybrid/electric or alternative fuel car, but only 3% said they would give up their car altogether.

Conservative party manifesto »


  • Develop high speed rail and make good use of additional capacity on existing lines: Of 18,547 AA members, 23% say they use public transport once or twice a month and 16% never.
  • Extend hard shoulder running: Further hard-shoulder running may increase capacity in some places but is no substitute for a road programme aimed at improving safety and the capacity of strategic roads in the long-term. Of 12,146 AA members, 50% strongly or partially support hard shoulder running.
  • Increase penalties for overrunning roadworks: Motorists support this policy. Of 8,110 AA members, 94% say they have been held up badly by roadworks in the past 12 months.
  • Rule out road pricing in next parliament: This is strongly welcomed. Of 11,388 AA members, only 31% said they would use a pay-for-use road at least to some extent.
  • Environmentally friendly vehicles: This is welcomed but more for lower fuel costs rather than environmental reasons. Of 13,489 AA members, 32% say they would replace their car to reduce their motoring costs and 15% to get a 'greener' vehicle.

Labour party manifesto »

Liberal Democrats

  • Revenue-neutral road pricing by a second Parliament: Motorists will be alarmed by the prospect of road pricing once again rearing its head. Road pricing would cost huge sums to implement and run – it may be the dream of economists and academics but AA members do not trust any government to develop a system that would be fair and not invasive of their privacy. As well as the two-thirds rejection of pay-for-use roads, 86% of 17,481 AA members don't trust a government to deliver on a promise of revenue-neutral road pricing.
  • Rural fuel discount scheme: This may not fit with road pricing but support for rural drivers is always welcome. However, drivers across the UK are feeling the squeeze of high fuel prices, with more than two-thirds now cutting back.
  • Zero emissions target for new vehicles. Environmentally-friendly vehicles, etc: This is welcomed. However, coping with the high price of fuel is the priority. Of 17,481 AA members, 28% say fuel economy would be the influencing factor in their choice of next car – compared to 3% for CO2 emissions.
  • Switch finance from road to rail: There is a special emphasis on rural rail, however, it should be borne in mind that time issues and the advent of personal transport killed rural rail in the 50s. There needs to be full recognition that more than 80% of goods and people move by road and therefore there must be investment in reducing traffic congestion and making roads safer.

Lib Dem manifesto »

AA Motoring Manifesto

The cost of motoring heads the top three concerns of 14,848 AA members surveyed as part of the AA/Populus panel – 53% placing it first. It's an issue that even engages the younger voters, with 41 per cent of 18-24 year olds vexed by how much they pay to drive. The AA has identified 'Focus Females' as a substantial group of floating voters, representing 74% of female AA members who say that motoring issues are very or quite important in determining who they will vote for in the election, with a 61% likelihood of being undecided as to who to vote for.

Asked to rate the top three motoring issues they would like to see addressed by the political parties, the AA members' top three are:

  1. The cost of motoring (such as taxes, parking, fuel prices) 53%
  2. Illegal drivers (those who don't register, tax, insure or MoT their cars) 51%
  3. Drink or drug-drivers 32%

More about the AA Motoring Manifesto »

Join the discussion in the AA zone


26 April 2010