The huge amount of money saved from halting smart motorway implementation could, in the short term at least, be used to increase the number of traffic police on our roads. Highways Agency staff should be given the ability to quickly report poor driving, with a focus on policing driving standards rather than just collecting speeding fines. Attentive, aware drivers doing 80mph clearly pose less of a risk on motorways than the vast amount of drivers who think texting at the wheel is acceptable.
Introduce a smart road-tolling system to replace vehicle excise duty. Every vehicle would be fitted, by law, with a smart GPS tracker.
If you think that’s invasive, well, your smartphone already knows where you are. A standard cost-per-mile rate would be levied across every UK road, and adjusted in realtime according to the vehicle’s homologated weight (taxing weight taxes road wear), emissions (CO2, NOx, particulates) and time of use (from rush hour to dead-of-night), plus the road’s maintenance needs.
Most of the tax would be used for general government spending, as now, but a fixed proportion (20%?) would be allocated to road maintenance and build. Roads needing work would cost slightly more to use, but not so much as to encourage rat-running, to pay for repairs. Foreign haulage operators would also pay.
The result would be the fairer allocation of road resources, as determined by the vehicle’s realtime congestion, environmental and maintenance impact. The tax on weight would encourage reduction, with obvious benefits. CO2 output would additionally continue to be taxed via fuel/electricity duty.
I would introduce significant incentives – guaranteed not to be withdrawn for at least seven years – for the adoption of LPG and natural gas as automotive fuels. It’s a much quicker way of shifting from diesel, especially for commercial operators.
While people struggle with the cost and difficultly of charging battery cars, we are literally standing on a country-wide gas infrastructure. The Volkswagen Group is already producing gas-powered vehicles across most of its brands that are very low on both pollution and CO2.
Road fuel receipts would have the three cash amounts printed on them. Government fuel tax, the producer charges and retailer profit. Elsewhere, there would be three numbers on rail tickets: the ticket cost, the taxpayer subsidy for the fare and the profit per-ticket being made by private operators. It might remind people that motorists pay more than their ‘fare’ share.