‘Road tax’ mentioned in parliament by org that ought to know better

Taxes and charges on road users

On this day last year, Peter Roberts, Director of Drivers’ Alliance Ltd, a membership organisation opposed to road pricing and pretty much anything that slows down motorists (including traffic lights and speed cameras), said there was such a thing as ‘road tax’ while giving his point of view in a Transport Committee meeting.

On 17th December 2008, Graham Stringer MP (Labour, Manchester Blackley) said: “We have talked a lot about the magnitude of the tax-take from motorists. What is a fair method of taxing?

Part of Peter Roberts’ reply was: “I think there is an argument to remove VED, take away the road tax, if you like, and place that on to fuel.”

He knew what VED is, but couldn’t resist sub-titling it as ‘road tax’.

The slip-up can be found in the House of Commons Transport Committee’s ‘Taxes and charges on road users’ report, published in July.

The Drivers’ Alliance as you’d pretty much expect isn’t terribly pro-cycling

One of its bloggers calls cyclists “lycra uniformed eco-fascists.” Bizarrely, this blogger then goes on to say such cyclists “cause the bulk of potential danger on our urban roads, civilian pleasure cyclists are hardly ever a problem.”

Civilian? Is this a war?

If so, Peter Roberts is the one of the generals and Jeremy Clarkson is Chief of Staff.

Roberts doesn’t like the idea of the EU Fifth Motoring Directive, the rule – common throughout much of the EU – that says an HGV has to be operated to be mindful of cars (and other, smaller road users); a car must be operated to be mindful of cyclists and pedestrians; and bicycles must be operated to be mindful of pedestrians.

In the event of a collision between an HGV and a car, the HGV driver would have to prove he wasn’t at fault. Ditto for motorists who prang cyclists and cyclists who prang pedestrians: the strong must always bend to the weak.

Roberts is having none of this:

“Just how will this insane idea help cyclists improve their road skills when they are effectively immune to traffic laws and will always get compensation in the event of an accident whilst the car driver is left to pick up the costs and repair the damage to his/her car?

How many ‘accidents’ will there be whilst a stationary car is at the traffic lights and a cyclist ‘collides’ with it damaging the car whilst the ‘victim’ on the bike claims thousands in compensation for their ‘injuries’?

Nice.

PS
The links to Driversalliance.org.uk require registration.

  • Michael Cornford

    Its usually a safe bet to say that the phrase “So, what you are saying is…..” will proceed a willful misinterpretation or the introduction to a straw man argument.

    I have had close calls what ever mode of transport I use, the difference being is that I don't then leap to he conclusion that all drivers are murderers as some on here seem to believe. An idiot is an idiot whether in a car, bicycle or two legs. It is not an excuse to punish one particular mode because you have an irrational dislike of it.

  • Michael Cornford

    I talk about the most basic requirements of using a vehicle, assessing the road ahead for danger and setting your speed accordingly –

    You called that guff (Quote; Your piece about setting you own appropriate and safe speed is pure guff.)

    I talked about enhancing hazard perception skills inline with the police training manual roadcraft

    You said;

    i think i will give the lessons a miss.

    Have you changed your mind?

  • http://bikingbrits.blogspot.com/ WestfieldWanderer

    There's no straw man argument here. I've made it clear that I am not taking sides. I just don't like the single minded “I'm right, you're wrong and there's nothing you can do about it” attitude from certain factions.

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    The 'murderer' bit came from the newspaper headline where a chief
    police officer said “cyclists get away with murder” when they run red
    lights.

  • vic bates

    Changed my mind? not at all. I do believe your statement to be pure guff. Setting you own speed with regard to road conditions and danger is exactly what gets people killed, some drivers think that they are so well trained that nothing could possibly go wrong, therefore they drive at a speed that is totally unacceptable. I watched the film from the police car on the local news. In a built up area, approaching a blind hill, on a bend, in the dark, around 2230 hrs driving at 90mph. His police training did not kick in then did it?
    You could see the group of people at the side of the road, did he slow? no his police trained roadcraft let him drive on. He killed the young girl, denied driving at speed, despite it being filmed in his own car, pleaded not guilty and got 3 years, out in 18 months. Fair? Would you take a lesson off him.?
    The point i make is that you can take as many lessons as you like from whoever you like, once you are out on the road you still have to obey the numbers on sticks, or the legal limit as i prefer to call it. Its there as a maximum for that particular stretch of road, not as a level to be reached and stayed at regardless of the situation. But you know that so its back to the main point of the site for me.

  • Paul Gibson

    Your idea of what speed is safe and what is really safe maybe 2 different things. Meanwhile some poor pedestrian or cyclist, who makes a mistake may get killed.

    Most drivers are good drivers I'm sure, but it only takes a bad day, or lapse of concentration or any number of other distractions to kill or injure someone. That's why traffic needs to be slowed down, and its why drivers need to realise that they are sharing the road and don't own the road.

    Its no good shifting the blame onto pedestrians and cyclists, they are not dangerous.

  • Paul Gibson

    Nobody believes all car drivers are murderers! But a lot of drivers don't even realise how dangerously they drive. Or don't realise how a mistake can cost? A mistake on foot or on a bike is unlikely to cause much problem to anybody but a mistake in a car kills. That's the difference. Its no good trying to pretend that only bad drivers make mistakes or errors of judgement. Everybody does.

    This website stems around the fact that plenty of motorists believe that cyclists shouldn't be on the road because they pay nothing towards it? But obviously this is incorrect. I'm sure not every motorist believes this but plenty do.

  • neilcain

    “According to Gazza people who disagree with him are Jeremy Clarkson petrol sniffers.

    I know this is a deeply held tenet of the cycling code”

    What a load of “patronizing BS” (sic).

  • Michael Cornford

    No the murderer bit came from MarkA who said

    “….. when drivers can attempt to murder other road users merely under the premise that they are right because the road is 'theirs'.”

    Nice

  • Michael Cornford

    You've proved my point – Your training is a waste of time statement is based on your own prejudice and the only 'evidence' you can present is an extreme example.

    The basic attitude on here is that drivers can't be trusted are irresponsible and if one driver behaves like an arse then all drivers are arses.

    Lets take the recent cold weather, Do I travel around at the speed limit because the number on the stick (and Vic) says its safe or do I drive at the speed I have been which is between 5 and 10mph – because that's the maximum speed that I and the people around me judge is safe?

    Lets apply your logic – If a plane crashes then do we A) Force all planes must fly at 20ft at 30mph in case they crash again or B) train those involved to prevent the accident happening again.

    If a train crashes do we A) impose speed limits or B) Learn the lessons to stop it happening again.

    As a matter of interest Vic, how do you decide what speed you cycle at?

  • Michael Cornford

    Again – based on your own (unreasonbly) low opinion of drivers.

    Forcing drivers to drive at a speed that is unreasonably slow will create not stop lapses in concentration.

    When drivers are presented with a road full of obvious danger then they slow down, the area that requires tackling is the unexpected incident which is why the answer is to train people to anticipate the unexpected.

    For example road furniture could signify an increased chance of someone walking out into the road without looking or learning to look 'through' parked cars or gaps in pavement railings. There is learning what different coloured road surfaces mean in terms of potential grip and therefore increased risk or learning to control the braking behavior of the car behind to minimise rear enders etc etc etc

    The list is endless and the idea that we should forget all that and just obey a number on a stick because drivers are stupid is frankly malicious and stupid

  • Paul Gibson

    “Forcing drivers to drive at a speed that is unreasonably slow will create not stop lapses in concentration.”

    No but it will make accidents a lot less serious. Why do you need to drive any faster than 20mph in a built up area?

    It's you who's blinkered. Not everybody is a perfect driver like you are. If they were we wouldn't even be having this discussion in the first place?!

  • http://bikingbrits.blogspot.com/ WestfieldWanderer

    “Straw man” argument, if there ever was one.
    Double standards, Michael?

  • vic bates

    Once again you are making things up. i never said training is a waste of time, the basic attitude on here is that some drivers could do with being a little more patient around cyclists and slow down a bit. do you actually take the time to read and digest this stuff, or are you happy to twist what people say for your own ends. Not all drivers are arses, but quite a few have the ability to be for a short while. My example is extreme but, sadly, not that unusual.
    Well done you, i must come down to your place during this cold snap, my wife and i have both been undertaken on dual carriageways here, by taxis and buses mainly,that is to say, people whose job it is to transport members of the public around, while trying to drive at a safe speed under the limit.
    Do you really think that the roads would be safer if there were no speed limits? all drivers left to decide on their speed dependant on what they see in front of them. Anyone care to guess the number of accidents that scenario would generate.
    Your examples are silly in the extreme and add nothing to your argument. An aircraft could not take off at 30mph and trains have speed limits already.
    I ride as fast as my lungs and legs will carry me, don`t worry, its well under any speed limit, i said i cycle, i did not say i was any good. How about you?
    NB Just read on cyclingnews.com of a doctor in the USA jailed for five years for harassing cyclists, now that's justice.

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    I think most of us would agree with much of what you have to say here.
    But only a minority of drivers think as cogently as you do.

    When I drive for extended periods I arrive with a headache, I've been
    concentrating so hard. But even though I make a conscious effort to
    drive very, very safely I never assume other drivers will be doing
    likewise.

    The epidemic of phoning and texting drivers is testament to this.

  • http://ibikelondon.blogspot.com/ MarkA

    Michael, for absolute clarity, so my words cannot be misrepresented or misunderstood, my discussion of drivers using the 'get off the road i pay road tax' argument as justification to attempt to drive some one off the road is in direct relation to my personal experience which I discussed previously. I'm sure you read that quite clearly the first time round, but thought I'd reitterate it here again, for clarity.

    I am not anti-car or anti-motorists – indeed I am a cyclist and a driver and am fully aware of the responsibilities of using the road. I would never call VED a tax to use a road (because it is a tax on the luxury of driving a heavy-emmitting vehicle) any more than I would proclaim the earth to be flat or deny climate change.

    Plain and simple, black and white.

    No more, please.

  • Michael Cornford

    Where did I say there should be no speed limits?

    What I said is that some speed limits were to low and that drivers should be trusted to set their speeds in relation to the limit and conditions

    So who is twisting arguments now?

    I have consistently advocated that drivers receive extra training in line with the police driver training roadcraft. Having done this myself I can state from experience that setting your speed to the conditions is far more sensible and reliable then numbers on sticks / speedo's.

    Do you actually no how speed limits are set now compared to a decade ago? The 85th percentile etc?

    Can you actually frame an argument without using an extreme and unusual incident?

  • Michael Cornford

    At least you have admitted that most drivers are good drivers – progress at last. But how can slowing down stop drivers losing concentration? Surely the answer is to engage drivers not make them switch off?

  • Michael Cornford

    Again we are making progress – all I am asking is a little balance here. Paul Gibson thinks that most drivers are good – you think its a minority. Who's right?

    The roadcraft stuff I learnt has become second nature now – It certainly shouldn't be so stressful. I can't recommend taking advanced driving lessons from a police instructor highly enough.

    You are certainly correct in terms of expecting the unexpected, I think this is the one area where the current required driver training is lacking.

    Just a thought but now we have established that not all drivers are arses then in relation to the raison d'etra of this site be that SOME drivers think that because they pay road tax they own the road?

    After all using the word 'drivers' without qualifying it gives the impression that all drivers are the same which we've already established isn't the case

  • Michael Cornford

    If this is the case then you really need to clarify that given the heated nature of this debate. There is too much generalising and stereotyping going on here.

  • vic bates

    Michael, now I'm getting confused. At various times on your posts you have stated.
    I object at having to drive at a speed that is unrealistic.
    Speed limits have been reduced to unreasonable levels.
    If you set your own speed you should not have to check your speedo.
    The proposed 20mph limit is stupidity personified.
    Armed with all these statements i would have to jump to the conclusion, and we all know you know what that's like, that you would prefer it if there were no numbers on sticks, or maximum speed limits. Are you then happy to break the set speed limit?
    Given all the extra training you have put yourself through, and i can only applaud you for that, i am struggling to believe you think that drivers, of all modes of transport, would be able to set their own sensible speed. Really. I wish i had your faith.
    No idea where speed limits come from, now or 10 years ago,or who sets them. No idea what or who the 85th percentile is.
    As for the incidents, i don`t view any of them, or any accident as extreme or unusual but most definitely avoidable with a little patience

  • Jason Penn

    It is annoying how these conversations get so narrow. After a while they are almost unreadable.

    I have to say though Vic, if you don't know about the 85th percentile limit setting or where limits came from, maybe you don't really have a good understanding of the issue at all.

    There is a lot of study behind the setting of limits which worked perfectly well until we got this lot (current DfT and the 'Speed Kills' mantra (previous DfT).

    If you look at road safety figures going back for decades, we used to have the best casualty reduction record in the world. The undeniable fact is that this was achieved whilst speed limits were far higher and more importantly we did not enforce them with the vigour seen today.

    With recent technical developments in vehicles such as ABS, Airbags, seat belts, better tyres and handling, the long term trend would indicate about 1,000 fewer deaths on the roads than we see today. I think what Michael is trying to say is that the intervention from misguided road safety initiatives of which lowering speed is the number one priority is in fact the wrong approach.

    I doubt anyone would question that hitting someone at a lower speed results in less damage, but we seem to be hitting more people than we should given the long term trend.

    If we had continued the policies which proved so successful for several decades through the 90's until today, I suspect we wouldn't be having this discussion.

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    Cyclist and pedestrian casualties reduced because cyclists and
    pedestrians withdrew from roads.

    ABS, airbargs, seat belts, better tyres and handling all contribute to
    making drivers feel safer so they drive faster. There's a ton of
    research on this, it's not speculation. And it doesn't require desk
    research: just get out on the roads. People are driving too fast and
    with too many distractions.

  • Jason Penn

    I am sorry Carlton, this goes back decades, when kids walked and cycled to school and people walked and cycled to work. The explosion in vehicle ownership came in the 70's and early 80's but the casualty rate continued to fall.

    These are facts – not speculative observations and biased 'research' from the CTC or other unproffesional organisations.

    To argue that drivers drive faster because they have an airbag is mad. The truth is that average speeds have slowed so this assertion is quite wrong.

  • Jason Penn

    Just in case you doubt my comments, this is from the DfT's Road Statistics 2008:

    • In the ten years from 1998, the percentage of vehicles exceeding the 30
    mph speed limit on built-up roads has dropped for every vehicle type.
    The most significant decrease was for cars. In 1998, 69 per cent of cars
    travelled at speeds in excess of the limit; by 2008 this dropped to less
    than half (49 per cent).

    Source: http://www.dft.gov.uk/adobepdf/162469/221412/22

    So you see, your accusations that drivers go faster because vehicles are safer is false and the 'research' you have seen supporting this is deeply flawed and significantly biased.

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    I could show you lots of research that would convince a rational
    person but flat-earthers such as yourself can't be budged.

    Also, given your silence on the matter, am I to assume you've not
    found a DfT official to go on record saying there's an entity called
    'road tax'?

  • neilcain

    “I can't recommend taking advanced driving lessons from a police instructor highly enough.”

    This is one area that I would agree with Michael. Having lift-shared with an advanced driving observer (who was trained by the ambulance and police driving instructor for out area) for several years I can confirm that his driving is excellent and mine only improved through his comments and by following his example.

    However, he did obey the 'numbers on sticks' and believed them to be there for a reason. He did drive fast, but only when conditions and his judgement allowed. He also broke speed limits, but only in 60 and 70 zones – 'numbers on sticks' again.

    However, he is a highly trained driver, and one of a few. Younger, more inexperienced drivers (of which there are plenty more) that are driving as quickly as him but without the benefit of his training may not believe that the 'numbers on sticks' are relevant, and almost certainly not be as observant or as prepared for the unexpected. That's one reason why I think 20mph built-up limits are a good thing (especially with our volume of urban furniture, which again could be attributed to volume of traffic) and where more education is required.

    Anyway, I feel this is digressing as it has little to do with VED or driver taxation.

  • Michael Cornford

    I assumed that as you were so adamant and forthright about speed limits that you were aware of how they were set.

    The 85th percentile is the method by which the majority of police forces around the set speed limits. Its based on research that found that the safest, most confident drivers who were statistically had the least accidents were those measured at the 85th percentile. To find what the 85th percentile was for a given road the traffic speeds are measured in free flowing conditions. The speed at which the 85th percentile is then rounded up to the nearest 10mph which is set as the speed limit of the road. What this speed limit represented was the fastest speed in optimum conditions of that particular stretch of road with drivers expected and trusted to modify there speed accordingly. This system is universally accepted because by taking the 85th percentile you automatically disregard those driving too fast or too slow.

    This was abandoned by the current Government which reduced speed limits across the board meaning that those drivers who were considered the safest and least likely to have an accident are now breaking the law. The arse's who used to break the old speed limits are unaffected by the change, they are just breaking the speed limit by more. The roads are no safer and all you have done is criminalize safe drivers.

    The examples you site, of extreme speeding, are a complete red herring.

    There have always been numbers on sticks but they used to mean something, ie the fastest speed that it is safe for an experienced driver to travel at in optimum conditions. These days they mean nothing.

    The final difference of course is who sets speed limits? Using the 85th percentile system it was set using a scientific method by the police, now it is set by local politicians lobbied by speed camera companies (lower speed limits require cameras) and as is the latest trend, by untrained and I would guess politically motivated individual members of the public who 'express concern'

    My argument is simple; let the police set the limits based on proven and accepted scientific 85th percentile method and then use cameras or police patrols to target the nutters

  • Michael Cornford

    Flat Earthers? – Christ, back to name calling are we?

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    “Fascist cyclists” is name-calling; flat-earthers is polite by
    comparison.

    The story on BikeBiz.com is also polite; you' and Jason are referred
    to as 'road tax refuseniks'.

    http://www.bikebiz.com/news/31635/Road-tax-rebu

  • vic bates

    Michael and Jason, Thanks for that, i had no idea how and by who the limits are set. I would bet that around 99% of drivers don`t either. My main gripe is with drivers that have little or no patience or tolerance of anyone on the road and are determined to speed past for no reason. Most of the time it just gets them to the next hold up a little quicker. You may think that some of my examples are extreme but i only put in what i have seen personally, and i have not put in anything from my time as a driving examiner. All i want, as i keep repeating, is a little more patience and tolerance from all road users, sadly, i don`t think its going to happen, 85th percentile or not.
    Will either of you be purchasing a website specific cycling shirt, you both admit to cycling and you both pay ” road tax”? it looks like a good deal to me.

  • Jason Penn

    Hi Vic,

    I think we agree the problem is patience and respect for other road users from all those who use the road. Your experience is that drivers are sometimes impatient arrogant gits which is undoubtedly true for a minority. My experience is the same can be said for cyclists.

    Again – a minority.

    As for the t-shirt offer, no thanks, I do pay quite a bit of road tax as a driver but certainly do not as a very occasional cyclist.

  • Gazza

    You're absolutely right. It isn't about drivers or cyclists, it's about people.

    People are idiots.

    Now the idiots who chose to cycle put themsleves at risk. The idiots who chose to drive put other people at risk.

    See the difference?

    If all the idiots got on bikes and stayed out of cars then the number of deaths on the road would be a tiny fraction of what it is now.

    And while it's true that these idiots are a minority, I have one of these idiots take a risk with my life around 4 or 5 times a week. That's once a day or so for my cycling of around 14 miles a day on my commute.

    A minority they may be, but a dangerous minority who often turn around to me and say “Well you don't pay road tax” which is not only pig ignorant, but even if true (which we know isn't), doesn't give them the right to behave in an antisocial way.

    I can't beleive that we even need to discuss this, if the need to save a nano second on your journey time is more important to you than another persons life, then you shouldn't have the privilage of a driving license, no matter how much of this mythical road tax you pay.

    Gazza

  • Jason Penn

    Gazza, I suspect it is your attitude which causes the problems you are experiencing.

    Everyone else is at fault except you. Drivers are trying to kill you at least 4 or 5 times a week.If this is truly the case then I suspect we will not be hearing from you for much longer.

    Have you ever thought about keeping out of the way of other road users and being polite to them?

  • Gazza

    And here we have it, the classic “Get off our roads” post.

    I should “get out of their way”?

    And it's my “attitude”

    Mate, these incidents happen at junctions where cars try to overtake me turning left only to find that I'm going staight on. I mean, such attitude, how dare I!

    Or at road narrowings whith on comming traffic. Obviously I should get out of their way, perhaps I should pull in and wait until there's no other traffic on the roads, rather then them follow the highway code and slow for a second or two until we're past the boillards/parked car etc.

    Your post betrays your lack of understanding of the issues mate. And the your ignorance of road law in addition to how they're financed.

    You see, my attitude isn't a problem until my life has been risked. I don't cycle down the road like a car hating loon. I have a car. And a motorbike. Guess what, I drive/ride with respect for other road users and have never once endangered a cyclist, or anyone with my impatience.

    But I suppose if I did run one over, I could point them to you and you could blame the victim.

    Thinking about it, I don't believe you're that much of an idiot, therefore you're just trolling. Has to be one or the other.

    Gazza

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  • http://badnewswade.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/fiction Andy

    Really? I find cars are always holding me up with their massive bulk. As for using the road, exactly how many ruts and potholes are down to excessive cycling?

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    Logic doesn't come into this.

  • Jason Penn

    Hello Andy,

    I cities when cars are stuck at traffic lights I suspect you are correct. When out on an open road you are wrong. Cyclist are a menace and do hold up traffic.

    Cyclists do not cause potholes but are suffering as a result of them. In the main, cars don't either, it is heavy traffic like buses and trucks which do the most damage but of course the big problem is the lack of maintenance from all the road taxes motorists pay.

    On average, a motorist pays about £0.32p a mile to use the roads – purely in taxation.

    How much does a cyclist pay?

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    Jason

    We missed you! In fact, in your absence, you – and your ilk – had to
    be created: http://twitter.com/AssnBritNutters

  • Guest

    Calling cyclists eco-freaks really gets to me – I don't give a shit about most of the marketing hype that is banded around.

    And as for Clarkson, he says things to purposely rile people, and if he gets you angry, you just don't get it.

  • Guest

    Calling cyclists eco-freaks really gets to me – I don’t give a shit about most of the marketing hype that is banded around.nnAnd as for Clarkson, he says things to purposely rile people, and if he gets you angry, you just don’t get it.

  • Michael

    I can deny that motorists are heavily taxed. What they pay doesn’t even come close to paying for the costs thatu00a0motor transportu00a0imposes on society.nWhen you add on top of road building and maintenance, theu00a0costs of the 400 or so people killed each year by motor vehicles, the 40,000 or so people seriously injured, the 400,000 or so peopleu00a0slightly injured,u00a0the CO2 and other pollution that motor vehicles chuck into the air, the thousands of premature deaths and illnesses caused by that pollution, the cost to the NHS of treating all the above.nnWhat motorists pay in tax doesn’t even come close.nu00a0