Three-quarters of all company car drivers feel they are being treated as a ‘cash cow’ by the Government, according to RAC’s 2011 Report on Motoring.
However, they believe the money is not being well spent and more funds should go towards improving the condition of the UK’s road network, despite the government pledging an additional £100 million in the March Budget.
The latest findings of the RAC’s annual report into UK motoring behaviour and attitudes reveals that the quality and maintenance of roads in the UK is the second most pressing concern for fleet motorists – second only to the cost of driving.
Having experienced two harsh winters in succession, 81% of respondents believe the condition of motorways and other main roads is getting noticeably worse and consider the problem to be even greater on local roads (94%). In turn, 81% want to see more motoring taxes reinvested into local roads.
“For some time business motorists have felt they are being unfairly treated as a ‘cash cow’, but after the pledge by the Coalition Government that things would improve, motorists felt a little more optimistic,” said Martin Quail, head of corporate partnerships at the RAC. “We’re now a year on and the perception is that nothing has changed.”
Fleet drivers are more concerned about changes that affect their immediate motoring environment than national schemes.
Their top priorities for transport funding are the maintenance of
and improvements to local roads and maintenance of motorways.
Quail said: “What business drivers would like to see is their money invested in areas which directly affect them on a day-to-day basis, such as the condition of the road system.
“This has become a priority for them and overshadows any concern for the environment, safety or provision for bad weather.
“As a result, we are calling for Government to create a national framework to ensure local authorities maintain similar roads to the same consistent standards.”
The vast majority (90%) of fleet drivers said they would find it difficult to adjust without their car, suggesting that the company car will continue to be a highly attractive benefit for staff retention.
The report also revealed how difficult it will be for fleet managers to encourage drivers out of their cars and onto public transport as part of a travel hierarchy scheme.
More than half (58%) disagreed that people in cars could use public transport at an alternative.
And that’s despite 74% reporting that traffic congestion has got worse compared to a year ago.
Seven out of 10 believe tougher steps should be taken to reduce it – clearly they will not want those steps to directly affect them, however.
Their perception does not match with reality, either. Statistics from the Department for Transport for the year ending January 2011 reveal an average vehicle delay of 3.49 minutes per 10 miles, a decrease of 10.5% from March 2008.
Meanwhile, a quarter of business drivers felt that local journey times had become more predictable.
“We advise fleets to plan routes ahead to avoid getting caught up in traffic blockages, allowing extra time for potentially problematic journeys and, where possible, avoid travel at peak times,” said Quail.
The RAC is also calling for the Government to investigate the introduction of a variable speed limit of up to 80mph on motorways based on weather conditions, traffic volume and individual road safety.