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Road pricing to hit drivers next?

A recent RAC survey has revealed that more than half of the nation's drivers believe they will have to pay to use substantial portions of the UK's road network within the next 25 years. The study shows that 55% of drivers believe that they will have to pay to drive into major towns and cities and to use motorways.

A recent RAC survey has revealed that more than half of the nation's drivers believe they will have to pay to use substantial portions of the UK's road network within the next 25 years. The study shows that 55% of drivers believe that they will have to pay to drive into major towns and cities and to use motorways. The survey has been carried out at a time when the government seems unsure about how it is going to pay for maintaining and improving the road infrastructure. So far, the coalition has said it will not impose tolls on existing roads before the election but no commitment has been given for the post election period.

The RAC survey polled the opinions of more than 1,500 motorists and found that drivers would in fact be willing to accept road use fees like congestion charges and motorway tolls if other taxes like vehicle excise duty and the fuel levy were cut. RAC technical director, David Bizley, suggest that the finds reflect a desire on the part of the motorist to have those who use roads more to pay more in tax. He says: "The report suggests that motorists would prefer to see a higher share of motoring taxation levied on those things over which they have greater control, such as whether or not they choose to drive into city centres or use a particular motorway."

A total of 29% of motorists said they back motorway tolls as a pricing method, while 21% were opposed. The situation with congestion charging was more clear cut, with 33% in favour and less than half of that figure against.

With the government sending out signals that it is unsure how to pay for the nation's roads, the issue of vehicle excise duty comes into sharper focus. Many drivers assume that what used to be called the 'Road Fund Licence' is used to maintain and improve roads. In fact, this is not the case. Only 22% of the £40 billion that the government raises annually from vehicle excise duty is used on the roads. Mr Bizley added: "Our Report on Motoring shows that Britain's motorists and roads have been left battle-scarred after a further 12 months of bearing the burden of extreme financial conditions. Our research shows that the UK motorist isn't being unreasonably demanding; all he or she wants is for more of their motoring taxation to be spent on roads."
 

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