I was recently reading about the trial of driverless vehicles that has been accepted by the government and with the general election coming up next month now is a good time to examine the policies of the main political parties and how it will be of benefit to motorists. On May 7, 2015 we are possibly going to see one of the closest fought election battles ever. Drivers make up a considerably large percentage of the electorate, and there are some critical issues that politicians should ignore at their peril. These include driving costs, road maintenance, and measures to help drivers at every level.
A poll recently revealed that drivers in Britain will look favourably on the party that makes a commitment to lower fuel costs, and increase speed limits. Looking back on the last five years of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition there has been some progress, but also one or two setbacks for beleaguered UK drivers.
Positive coalition moves have been the big investment in road maintenance and building. The scrapping of the tax disc and impending developments on removing paper licences are also some of the highlights of the coalition’s road user policies. One of the most welcomed strategy decisions of the last five years has been the fuel duty freeze, which has led to petrol prices at the pumps plummeting to a five –year record low. However, the coalition didn’t make any friends by dropping the much-anticipated changes to regulations regarding young drivers, to help reduce accident statistics in that sector.
To help you make a decision as to which party promises will really help drivers over the next five years, here are some announcements from the campaign trail around the UK.
The party claims to have funded the biggest package for the development of British roads since the 1970s. Pumping in more money, and trying to alleviate congestion hotspots with schemes like the Pinch Point fund have achieved this. The party will fund highway repairs in the future with the introduction of a long-term settlement system, which is similar to what is currently in operation for the country’s railways.
On fuel prices, the Conservatives can quote the last five years as an achievement, and promise more of the same.
With fraud being one of the biggest reasons why premiums go up, the Conservatives are promising to come down hard on fraudsters trying to ‘play the system’ and reduce the cost of compensation claims at source. Capping fees paid to solicitors will achieve this.
The Labour Party
The Labour Party is also committed to delivering a better road network for motorists. Labour wants to put in place a long-term road strategy, which focuses on maintenance, with a ‘shock fund’ for unexpected occurrences like flooding.
An interesting idea by Labour for car insurance, is to put in place a policy that is cheaper, and only covers drivers that are travelling to work. This can now be achieved with the advancement of telematics technology, which accurately monitors car usage and the routes travelled. The party is also committed to young driver safety.
The Liberal Democrats
The Liberal Democrats have promised a funded prize to the first car manufacturer to construct an ultra-low CO2 emission car that becomes a UK top seller. The party is equally as committed as the Conservatives and Labour to funding for highway maintenance. The Liberal Democrats want to target young drivers, as a group most likely to have accidents, and bring in safety measures for their protection. The party also wants to reduce insurance premiums across the board.
The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has identified road maintenance as a front-line service. The party aims for its town halls to fix potholes and general road damage, but work to keep taxation down. UKIP cites years of neglect as a reason many roads are in such a sorry state of disrepair.
UKIP identified itself as the party for cheap fuel prices. One of the main issues that the party wants to deal with in this area is the high cost of diesel and petrol. They want to lower cost by attacking fuel duty and believe that this will ultimately benefit the economy as a whole.
UKIP are against road tolls and will not renew existing contracts when they run out. They think that motorists pay enough already with road tax and that this has to be abolished.
Plaid Cymru was the first political party to publish the whole of its manifesto. The party wants to bring the Severn Bridge into public ownership, to cut tolls and strengthen the country’s road infrastructure with substantial investment. Plaid Cymru wants to regulate fuel duty to stop price spikes and would like to see more charging points for hybrid electric-cars around the Principality.
With the campaign beginning to heat up, maybe it would be an interesting idea to keep these promises to hand, and re-examine them in another five years, to see which party has actually delivered.