Weekly Web Watch: Road users’ chance to talk back

As the media bemoans John Prescott’s supposed war on cars, automobile organisations continue to lobby on behalf of the motorist.

As the media bemoans John Prescott’s supposed war on cars,

automobile organisations continue to lobby on behalf of the


Last week, the AA published a report on the state of motoring in the UK

entitled ’The Great British Motorist 2000’. Its findings couldn’t really

have been worse for the Government, as it revealed that UK motorists

spend the most time commuting to and from work and suffer the worst road

congestion in western Europe. This was despite the fact that they pay

most for both their fuel and their cars but are the least likely to find

other modes of transport, such as cycling or public transport, a viable


Unsurprisingly, the findings made a big splash in the UK media, coming

hot on the heals of reports of a proposed road tax.

Obviously the AA has a large share of voice when it comes to commenting

on motoring issues in the UK. The organisation is also well known for

its campaigns, so it is interesting to see what it does on its web site

to contribute to the debate.

The AA explains on its web site that it is an organisation which

campaigns on behalf of all motorists, not just its customers.

It has several sections devoted to motoring issues such as speed limits,

fines and fuel prices. These feature an introduction, with some

background to the issue and often some statistics on what the public

feels about it. Various comments, which visitors e-mail to the site, are

posted anonymously.

A variety of opinions are expressed. For example, in the section on

’What do you think is a Fair Deal?’, some people complain that taxes are

too high, while another proposes a yearly road tax dependent on the

horsepower or how polluting vehicles are.

In contrast, the Department of Transport’s web site (www.detr.gov.org)

has lots of technical information on various consultation papers, and

the Government’s expenditure plans, but there is no forum for informal


The Department of Transport’s aim and objectives are clearly outlined,

but the site deals only with the Government’s agenda. The section on

campaigns outlines the Government’s strategy for dealing with certain

issues, such as drink driving, speeding, and mobile phones in cars.

Copies of ads and literature are shown on the site, but again, there is

no scope for public interaction.

Whether or not all motorists agree that fuel tax is too high, or

disagree with Prescott’s measures to reduce road congestion in our

cities, the AA web site is a great forum for motorists to express their

opinions and lend their support - or otherwise - to the AA’s


Organisation: AA

Issue: The Great British Motorist 2000

At: www.theaa.co.uk

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