By John Simpson 23 June 2011
Drivers who live in rural areas are twice as dependent as urban residents on their car, an annual report from the RAC has highlighted.
The RAC’s 23rd ‘Report on Motoring’ outlines the shifts in car usage and how soaring fuel prices threaten to leave rural motorists stranded.
Rural residents confess to having a 68.3% dependency for all purposes while those based in urban environments reported 34%.
Over a third (37%) of motorists who live out in the country have cut down on the number of car journeys despite an obviously heavy reliance on their own car.
So if drivers are being forced off the road, how are they getting about? For 35% of drivers, it’s been public transport but for those out in the sticks with significantly sparser services, it was a option for just 25%.
Impending cuts to public transport wouldn’t help this situation either, said Robert Gifford, Executive Director of the Parliamentary Advisory Panel for Transport Safety.
“We need to understand what the barriers are to people using bicycles and public transport more,” he added.
For 68% of urban drivers walking and cycling was a practical option, 8% more than in 2010, while rural residents had cut how much they walk by 5% to 44%.
Adrian Tink, the RAC’s Motoring Strategist, said that having the highest fuel duty and tax in Europe had affectively bullied drivers into a situation that made even the most everyday events difficult.
“Peoples’ ability to live their lives and do the most basic of tasks, such as visit family and take their children to after school activities, is being threatened and it looks like it’s only going to get worse,” he commented.
“UK drivers want action from the Government. They already pay the highest duty and tax on fuel in Europe.”
Mr Tink called for a freeze on fuel duty, cancelling any future rises.
“The Government should look again at the fair fuel stabiliser so that increased revenue from high oil prices can be passed back to drivers,” he added.
Rural drivers would be right to feel like they’re over a barrel with 86% of them saying they would have huge difficulty in cutting the amount they use their car with 64% adding that they would find it hard to live without one.
“Living in the country, we need our cars - public transport is virtually nonexistent,” said one rural participant. “In the winter, a decent 4x4 is the only way to get around, but the cost of fuel is now a real challenge.”
Motoring campaigner Quentin Willson said it all comes down to the cost of fuel: “Duty rises are causing untold hardship for millions of motorists. Drivers are being forced to use the roads less, and there’s a clear feeling that the price of fuel is hindering economic growth and reducing discretionary spending.
“Different drivers are feeling the pain in different ways. For rural motorists, public transport frequently isn’t a viable option meaning they have little choice but to keep filling up the fuel tank.
“For urban drivers, getting to the shops, commuting to work, and doing the school run are all becoming frighteningly expensive. This is forcing people to make unpalatable personal sacrifices.”
The RAC’s report also raised the gripes of those who have so far managed to stay on the roads.
The condition of Britain’s road network was criticised with 84% of motorists eager to see the maintenance of local roads pushed up the list of priorities while 62% want investment in winter weather equipment to be prioritised.
Faster motorways also featured with 75% of drivers calling for an increase to the 70mph limit.
Attitudes towards eco-models has been covered plenty at FleetDirectory.co.uk in recent weeks and the report confirmed those opinions with just 30% saying they would only buy an alternatively-powered car if it was cheaper to run than a petrol or diesel model.
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