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Motorists want a sustainable future – but it’s a long road to get there

Tempcover has undertaken detailed research to better understand how British motorists envision the country’s Future of Motoring. What we have found is a nation of drivers at a crossroads with a number of conflicting factors at play.

Most motorists showed a willingness to embrace a green revolution – but they are frustrated by perceived barriers related to costs, policy and infrastructure.

They welcome concepts such as electric cars in principle – but many find them unaffordable or are put off by a lack of charging points.

Despite billions of pounds being spent on new technologies such as smart motorways and driverless cars, most respondents remain unconvinced of their safety.

Heavy traffic, pollution and speeding were identified as the top existing problems on the roads, however the effectiveness of current solutions such as congestion charges and speed cameras were brought into question.

At a crossroads, there is always a choice to be made about where to go, and we believe the responses to this survey help point us in the right direction.

Drivers want to be supported in making more sustainable choices and will make those decisions as long as the infrastructure is there to justify them.

They prefer co-operation to coercion and respond to encouragement over enforcement – so measures such as tax breaks on greener vehicles are welcomed ahead of congestion charges and speed cameras.

Technology has a huge role to play in our motoring future. Innovations such as app-based taxis, parking apps and usage-based car insurance are already part of our everyday lives, supporting the increasingly flexible ways we want to use our cars and roads in a rapidly changing world.

The time may come when other innovations such as smart motorways and driverless cars become a safe and dependable part of our everyday lives – but we are not there yet.

Motorists want to solve today’s problems to lay the foundations for future generations and to achieve that, their voices must be heard today. That’s what this report is all about.

The route to a more sustainable Future of Motoring will be a long and challenging one – but we believe we can get there if motorists, the government, campaigners and the wider industry take it together.

Alan Inskip

Tempcover CEO & Founder.

The study results

Motorists’ top concerns and desired solutions

Tempcover has undertaken detailed research to better understand how British motorists envision the country’s Future of Motoring. What we have found is a nation of drivers at a crossroads with a number of conflicting factors at play.

Most motorists showed a willingness to embrace a green revolution – but they are frustrated by perceived barriers related to costs, policy and infrastructure.

They welcome concepts such as electric cars in principle – but many find them unaffordable or are put off by a lack of charging points.

Despite billions of pounds being spent on new technologies such as smart motorways and driverless cars, most respondents remain unconvinced of their safety.

Biggest issues

What do you believe are the biggest issues on the British road network?

Respondents were asked to select all statements that apply

70.9% Potholes

62.1% Congestion

38.2% Speeding

37.2% Pollution

30.7% Over-zealous enforcement (parking fines, speeding fines, etc.)

30.1% Lack of electric vehicle charging points

17.6% Noise

2.4% None of the above

Drivers aged 25-34

Drivers aged 25-34 are most concerned about environmental aspects of motoring – with pollution (56.6%) and a lack of electric charging points (51%) scoring higher than average in this group.

Potholes

Potholes are the top complaint across the board, but older drivers are more concerned about these than younger people – 84.3% of drivers aged 65+ singled out potholes as a big issue, compared to 46% of 18-24s.

Over-zealous enforcement

Older drivers are far more likely to choose “over-zealous enforcement” as a top issue, with 44.1% of those aged 65+ calling this out – compared to 28.4% of 18-24s and just 12.9% of 25-34s.

Desired solutions

Which of the following eco-friendly road measures would you like to see the Government invest in?

Respondents were asked to select all statements that apply

Our Findings

Eco-friendly measures

Motorists of the future embrace green technology – only 2.2% of those aged 18-24 think that no more eco-friendly measures should be introduced, compared to 20.5% of those aged 65+.

Electric Charging

Electric charging points featured strongly, with half (49.9%) of motorists agreeing that the Government should invest in more of these.

Emerging technology

Emerging technologies such as self-healing asphalt (chosen by 38.5% of respondents) and roads that wirelessly charge electric cars (23.9%) are already attracting significant support.

The pros and cons of switching from fossil fuels to electric vehicles

Rising fuel prices are a major concern for most motorists, and they believe the Government and oil companies should take action. Almost half of respondents – especially younger drivers – support the move to electric vehicles as an alternative to fossil fuels – but concerns over the cost and a lack of charging points are holding many back.

Fuel prices

With fuel prices increasing what action do you think the Government should take?

Respondents were asked to select all statements that apply

59.7% Reduce fuel duty to make it cheaper

58.3% Force big oil companies to reduce their profits so prices go down

50.5% Set a national price cap on diesel/petrol prices to ensure it is more affordable

30.8% Provide greater tax breaks for people buying electric cars

3.3% I think fuel pricing is fair and reasonable

6 in 10 respondents...

Motorists split the responsibility for rising fuel costs between the Government and oil companies, with roughly six in ten respondents agreeing that duty should be reduced and that oil companies should reduce profits.

Tax breaks

Tax breaks for people buying electric cars were especially popular among younger respondents – 44.3% of 18-24s and 55.4% of 25-34s agreed with the idea.

Reasonable pricing

Age is a factor – 7.2% of 18-24s thought fuel pricing was fair and reasonable, compared to just 1.1% of those aged 55-64.

Willingness to adopt electric vehicles

Putting costs and other barriers aside, do you support the concept of moving to electric vehicles?

Respondents were asked to choose one statement

48.2% Yes, I would switch to an electric vehicle in principle

24.1% No, I think that diesel and petrol vehicles are perfectly suitable

13.9% Yes, I already own or am planning to purchase an electric vehicle

13.8% No, I think that vehicles should have other power sources such as hydrogen, natural gas, etc.

1 in 7 respondents...

Around one in seven (13.9%) respondents already owned or were planning to buy an electric vehicle.

Switch to electric

The 18-24 age group were far more likely to switch to an electric vehicle in principle – with 61% agreeing to this statement. Those aged 45-54 were the next most likely (56.4%).

Petrol & diesel suitability

The likelihood of believing that diesel and petrol cars are “perfectly suitable” increases along with driver age – 9.3% of 18-24s agreed with this statement, compared to 35.3 per cent of those aged 65+.

Barriers to purchasing electric vehicles

What’s stopping you buying an electric car?

Respondents were asked to select all statements that apply

Our Findings

Main barriers

Here we clearly see the two main barriers to the adoption electric cars – the cost of the vehicles and the accessibility of charging points.

Female respondents

Women are slightly more likely to be worried about the cost than men – 74% of females agree that electric cars are too expensive, compared to 69.4% of males.

1 in 5 unconvinced

Around one in five (20.9%) remain unconvinced about the environmental benefits of electric vehicles – and almost a quarter of 18-24s say they like the engine noise of their fossil fuel-powered car.

Driverless cars, smart motorways and technology

The Government has invested huge amounts in smart motorway technology with a total of £2bn worth of contracts announced in 2010 followed by a further estimated investment of £1.2bn in 2020.*

Meanwhile, tech companies and car manufacturers are putting billions into driverless car technology. However, fears over the safety of these high-tech solutions means there is a long way to go until UK motorists are convinced by the vision of a futuristic road network.

*Source: Sky News, January 12, 2022.

Attitudes to driverless vehicles

We asked drivers which of the following statements reflects how they feel about driverless vehicles.

Respondents were asked to choose one statement.

44.3% I am worried they are unsafe and I would never travel in one

36% I would travel in one if a human driver was there as a backup

9.1% I would happily be a passenger in one without a human driver, but only on roads up to 20mph

7% I would happily be a passenger in one without a human driver on any road including motorways

3.7% None of the above

Safety & trust

The driverless car revolution doesn’t just depend on technological advancements – there will be a long road ahead before drivers feel safe enough to trust the technology.

Younger drivers

Younger drivers are more likely to accept driverless cars – 31% of them said they felt the technology was unsafe compared to 44.3% overall.

Older drivers

Older drivers are the most sceptical – 53.1% said they would never use a driverless car because of safety fears.

Smart motorways

Do you feel uncomfortable driving on a smart motorway for any of the following reasons?

Respondents were asked to select all statements that apply

48.5% I’m worried about being stranded if I break down

44.4% I’m worried for my safety

29.7% I’m concerned emergency vehicles won’t be able to get to me

23.6% I don’t understand how they work

22.7% I don’t trust the technology

17.8% I don’t feel uncomfortable on smart motorways

Our Findings

Concerns

Women are slightly more concerned over safety than men, with 44.4% of females citing this concern, compared to 42.3% of males.

Breaking down

More than half of women (51%) fear being stranded if they break down compared to 45.9% of men.

Lack of trust

Overall, more than a fifth (22.7%) say they don’t trust smart motorway technology – with over-65s (36.4%) the most sceptical age group.

Traffic controls and enforcement

We’ve seen that motorists are concerned about congestion, pollution and speeding – but the measures being used to tackle these are not universally popular.

When it comes to encouraging safer and more sustainable motoring, punitive traffic controls are not the answer. Drivers prefer the carrot to the stick – supporting encouragement over enforcement.

Congestion charges

Which of the following statements reflects how you feel about cities introducing congestion and other charges to deter motorists driving into cities?

Respondents were asked to select all statements that apply

47.2% I do not support congestion charges because they are a money-making scheme

42% I would never drive to a city where there are congestion charges

21.3% I’d like to see congestion charges abolished entirely

19.2% I pay congestion charges but only because I am forced into paying them

10.5% I happily pay congestion charges to offset my vehicle’s carbon footprint

8.4% I’d like to see congestion charges introduced in every major British city

8.3% None of the above

7.5% I don’t pay congestion charges because I use public transport, but think they are a good idea

42% of respondents

More than four out of 10 (42%) drivers would NEVER drive to a city where there are congestion charges. Again, age is a factor. Motorists aged 18 to 24 were the least likely to be put off by charges, with 22.3% in that age group agreeing with the above statement, compared to 58.6% of 25-34s and 45.5% of 65+

Younger drivers

Younger drivers are far more likely to “happily” pay a congestion charge to offset their carbon footprint – 21.3% of 18-24s agreed with this statement compared to only 4% of over-65s.

Lack of support

A lack of support for introducing congestion charges in all major British cities (8.4%) suggests motorists believe these pay to drive schemes are not the solution to traffic problems.

Cycling

As a car driver, how do you feel about cyclists and cycle lanes?

Respondents were asked to select all statements that apply

44.8% There should be more designated cycle lanes

43.8% Cyclists should be under greater scrutiny from the police eg for riding through red lights

34% Cyclists should have to pay road tax

27.9% Cyclists should only be allowed on roads that have designated cycle lanes

26.4% Cyclists should be allowed on all roads except major roads and motorways

21.6% There should be fewer cycle lanes

3.2% None of the above

Cycle lanes

Motorists are more supportive of cycle lanes that you might think. 44.8% believe there should be more cycle lanes compared to just 21.6% who would prefer to see fewer.

Use of roads

A significant proportion (27.9%) believe cyclists should ONLY be allowed on roads with designated cycle lanes.

Better enforcement

Almost half (43.8%) of all respondents believe that cyclists should be under greater police scrutiny. Older drivers are twice as likely to believe the police should crack down on cyclists who run red lights – 63.5% of over-65s agreed with this statement compared to 32% of 18-24s and just 20.3% of 25-34s.

Speed cameras

Which of these statements reflects how you feel about speed cameras and speed limits on UK roads?

Respondents were asked to select all statements that apply

55.7% Speed cameras don’t make us safer because people know where they are and just slow down to avoid them

28.6% The current 70mph speed limit is safe and should not be changed

27.5% There are too many speed cameras and we don’t need any more

26.7% The motorway speed limit should be increased to 80mph to keep traffic moving and ease congestion

23.4% There should be more speed cameras to reduce accidents

11.5% The motorway speed limit should be decreased to 60mph to make our roads safer

2.7% None of the above

Our Findings

Effectivness

A majority of respondents believe speed cameras are not effective, with more than half (55.7%) of drivers believing that people just slow down to avoid them.

Motorway speed limit

The debate for raising the motorway speed limit is contentious, however slightly more drivers (28.6%) believed in keeping the existing 70mph limit than called for it to rise to 80mph (26.7%).

Accident reduction

Drivers aged 25-34 are the most likely to call for more speed cameras to reduce accidents, with 41.4% of them agreeing with this statement, compared to just 16.1% of over-65s and 25.3% of 18 to 24s.

Car sharing

Which of the following reasons would put you off taking part on a ride-sharing scheme?

Respondents were asked to select all statements that apply

Car sharing

Car-sharing schemes are one possible way to cut traffic, but motorists would need to be persuaded, with most respondents (52.7%) finding it an inconvenience, and almost half (49.4%) agreeing that they preferred time alone in the car to think.

Age of respondents

There was no real age divide here, with similar answers across the age ranges.

Older drivers

Older drivers were more likely to ride-share with almost a fifth of respondents in the 55-64 and 65+ categories saying they would, compared to just 8.9% of 18-24s and 7.4% of 24-34s.

How we conducted our research

The research was commissioned by Tempcover and carried out by independent research company Mortar Research which conducted an online survey among 2,003 respondents across the UK. The sample of adults who drive a car was randomly selected from the survey panel. The research was conducted between 24th and 28th February 2022.

The panel is drawn from multiple sources and recruited using a mix of techniques to select unique and responsive members.

The survey company’s privacy policy is clearly stated for panel members and the company adheres to UK data protection laws. Researchers are members of the MRS and we adhere to research practice In line with ESOMAR guidelines.

If you would like to review the data from our survey, you can download the results here.

Conclusion

We would like to thank all of those who took part in this survey, to help us build a clear and fascinating picture of what matters to motorists now and for the future.

We have sent this report and our summary of its findings to the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, the Secretary of State for Transport, to ask that he listens to the voices of UK motorists and that the government:

  • Explores ways to address the concerns of motorists about the costs of electric cars.
  • Develops measures to increase the number of electric vehicle charging points around the UK.
  • Addresses motorists’ concerns about the continuing rise in fuel prices.
  • Takes on board the public’s concern over the safety of smart motorways.
  • Encourages the use of existing greener technologies such as solar-powered road signs and lights and supports the development of future innovations to improve the sustainability of motoring and the experience of road users.

About Tempcover

Tempcover specialises in short-term car, van, motorbike, student, and learner insurance – having sold over 3.9-million policies since 2006. As a pioneer of the UK’s InsurTech industry, we enable drivers aged 17-78 with full UK, provisional and EU licences to purchase temporary fully-comprehensive coverage from as little as 1-hour to 28-days in duration. Our short-term policies offer truly flexible cover for the time drivers actually need – with no long-term commitment or auto-renewals. Our temporary cover does not impact other annual policies or no claims discounts, as it is a separate, standalone policy.

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