Here at RDRF we break taboos.
We point out that people adapt to perceptions of risk. We suggest that it is not necessarily a very good idea to assume that we should be living in a world with more and more cars which are to be used more. We think that danger should primarily be thought of in terms of the threat one poses to others, rather than the (supposed) danger presented to you. We try to speak English rather than “roadsafetyese”.
It’s a bit like the old idea that “you can’t tell a man he’s not a good a driver”. We’re the kind of people who do.
So, as we enter 2010 and all face the prospect of higher taxes and/or public service cuts, not to mention later retirement, reduced savings etc., let’s look at one particular taboo area which is even more relevant now than during the boom years. It’s also an idea which has a very special relevance for transport professionals.
After all, this is the time when transport practitioners working in areas financed by central or local government are bracing ourselves for the dreaded cuts. How will we cope? Is there anything we can do to soften the blow(s)?
I – and this is a personal opinion – think there is. It is for transport professionals to put forward the facts about the costs of motoring and present Government with an alternative to some of the inevitable cuts and taxation rises, not least in the area of properly resourcing sustainable transport. (I’m not interested in cuts in road building projects – a good area for public expenditure cuts if ever there was one).
That alternative is one which has always been on the cards for sustainable transport advocates, which was minimally recognised with the fuel tax accelerator, but which has always been something of a taboo subject for politicians and professionals alike. So here goes – steel yourselves:
I think that motorists should pay a reasonable amount of money to drive their vehicles on the public highway.
Phew! If you’re still breathing, let me explain what this would mean, why it is justified – and why it could, despite all the conventional wisdom, be a lot more widely accepted than most people think.