2/29/2008UK Conservatives Urge End to War Against Motorists
UK conservative leaders issue political paper calling for an end to the war against the motorist.
Conservative Party political leaders in the UK released a detailed policy report urging an end to what they called "the war against drivers." A forty-eight page document issued by the group Conservative Way Forward outlines specific proposals designed to turn existing transportation policy on its head and make life for motorists both less stressful and more safe.
"The freedom provided by the motor vehicle is not universally applauded," report author Malcom Heymer wrote. "There are those who resent the loss of state control over individual choice that the car represents. Such people rarely admit their prejudices openly; instead, they make false or exaggerated claims about the adverse effects of road transport in order to justify calls for higher taxation or restrictions on mobility."
The report explained that motorists pay £44.6 billion (US $89.2 billion) in gas taxes and various registration and road fees, but only £7 billion (US $14 billion) of this amount goes to improving, maintaining or expanding the road network. The rest of the money is diverted into unrelated social spending. Official transportation policies are designed to discourage the use of automobiles by reducing the number of travel lanes and parking spaces as well as imposing congestion taxes. When it comes to safety, the only solution officials put forward revolve around speed limit enforcement.
"Road safety policy, both at national and local level, has been driven as much by a covert desire to discourage car use as by the aim of reducing casualties," the report explained.
The result has been a "stall" in the reduction of fatalities that had occurred for three decades before speed cameras were first installed. Now England and Wales issue a total of 10.6 million speeding and parking tickets every year, generating millions in revenue. The Tory report argued the need for change.
"While highway authorities and enforcement agencies are never slow in penalizing drivers, they give a much lower priority to minimizing traffic disruption," the report stated. "All these practices show contempt for road users and the value of their time."
Among the many policy proposals, the report suggested the following:
- Schedule road works around the needs of traffic flow
- Penalize officials who unnecessarily close highways
- Synchronize traffic lights
- Freeze all obstructive "traffic calming" schemes
- Ensure bus/cycle lanes contribute to traffic flow
- Eliminate limitations on parking spaces
- Abandon congestion charges
- Improve public notice to motorists
- Set speed limits by the 85th percentile
- Education should emphasize driver responsibility, not "obeying simple rules"
- Encourage advanced driver training