When you travel through France, you have two choices: you either follow the Autoroutes and pay or you take the country roads and don’t pay. If you want a simple fast route from the north to the south of the country then it is going to cost you money. It is the same in Spain, in Germany and for all I know, in most other European countries So why should it be different in Britain?
The new transport secretary, Philip Hammond, has answered my question with plans for a new generation of privatised motorways and trunk roads to be funded by tolls. People are already up in arms about this idea asking what is road fund tax for? In his favour, he has ruled out a national road pricing scheme but he is considering charging lorries on a pay-as-you-drive basis.
Now this will please many: he is opposed to both fixed point and average speed cameras, and has made clear that there will be no new cash for their expansion. Instead, the focus will be on making British roads safer.
“It is a lazy approach,” said Hammond of cameras. “Most people are not malicious speeders, they are careless. When reminded they are over the limit, they brake. We do not believe speed cameras [should be] the primary tool for delivering road safety in the future.”
Hammond is also in favour of introducing roadside testing for drug-driving, but has yet to be convinced of the merits of cutting the drink-drive limit from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg.
“We are all very conscious of drink-driving, but perhaps drug-driving has not had the attention it needs,” he said.