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AA report highlights road charging concerns

A new AA report points to a breakdown in the relationship between road users and the Government. The AA claims that the report, which was the result of interviews with 1000 motorists, suggests motorists believe the Government's transport planners are “revenue-driven” and don't understand how ordinary people live their lives.

The report centred on motorists views on the funding of the UK's road network. Although respondents generally accepted that the roads had to be paid for and a system of paying by the mile was fair, the concept of using satellite technology to track driver usage was especially unpopular – with 52 per cent rejecting the idea, 39 per cent strongly opposed to it, and 12 per cent undecided.

Tolls on motorways weren't rejected out of hand (45 per cent for, 38 per cent against) where they would be alternatives to existing routes, such as the forthcoming M6 toll road. But respondents were concerned that the charging could be the thin end of the wedge, and tolls on existing roads would be introduced.

The majority of drivers (62 per cent against 24 per cent) felt that the current system of paying for roads “by the mile” through paying fuel tax was fundamentally sound because it is fair, cheap to collect and “green”.

Respondents believed that motoring taxes should be generally hypothecated – but accepted that all money raised could not be put into the road infrastructure. But drivers felt that “roads should have the first call on it,” says the AA.

AA policy director John Dawson says: “Politicians and planners have got a long way ahead of public opinion because they have been seduced by the possibilities of the technology and the theory that it can be made to work.

“Unfortunately, they don't realise that people expect to get value for money for what they pay already, and that most have real fears over the family budget if road pricing is introduced.”

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