It depended which version you read, but either way the RAC’s annual report on motoring seemed to contain surprises. The actual report doesn’t seem obviously visible online, but the RAC’s version suggested that motorists wanted more authoritarian approaches to dangerous motorists, while the Guardian’s interpretation implied that motorists’ attitudes to road pricing was heavily inflected by what the revenues were spent on.

The report is based on a survey of more than 2,000 motorists. The RAC’s news release concentrated on the high levels of support for fairly stiff measures to reduce the amount of dangerous driving on the road.

  • 73% agreed with the public naming and shaming of drink drivers
  • 71% agreed with increasing random breath testing of drivers stopped by police
  • 69% agreed with reducing drink drive limit to 50mg per 100ml of blood
  • 67% agreed with installing “alco-locks” (breathalisers that prevent ignition activation if the drivers blood alchohol is too high
  • 59% agreed with introducing speed cameras that photograph the driver.

The first two have since been floated (within 24 hours) as changes the government would like to make to traffic laws. There’s also some interesting data on attitudes to accidents, although it’s difficult to work out what it means without seeing the actual survey. But it is worth noting that 59% of motorists want the government to work towards a 50% cut in motoring crashes. Whether that means that they’ll accept tougher speed limits, which is the best way to achieve this, is maybe a different question.

In the Guardian’s story on the report, it noted that “just under a third of drivers agreed with the principle of road pricing, down from 40% last year.” But that figure increased to 73% (up 4% on last year) if the proceeds were invested in improving public transport. The way in which Ken Livingstone managed the introduction of the congestion charge in London seems shrewder as we undertsand more about public attitudes.