Motoring issues
Published:
Mar/Apr2004

Poll finds how motorists feel about taxes, tolls and more
ore than 900 AAA members responded to the poll regarding transportation issues and concerns in the January/February issue of the “AAA Southern Traveler.” Both state and federal legislators are being advised by AAA of the opinions expressed by AAA members in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas who responded to the poll.

FEDERAL HIGHWAY FUNDING
When asked if they would support or oppose an increase in the federal motor fuel tax to maintain and improve the nation’s highways, AAA members responded:

Favor 59% Oppose 41%

Among those who would support a federal motor fuel tax increase, 60 percent would go for an increase of 2 to 3 cents; 23 percent would tolerate 4 to 5 cents and even a 10-cent increase got the nod from 12 percent.

One thing that motorists are not keen to see is the federal motor fuel tax based on an index such as the Consumer Price Index or the Highway Construction Cost Index, as 65 percent oppose this concept. Linking the motor fuel tax rate to an index is currently pending in Congress.

TOLLS
Nothing about tolls is attractive to a great majority of motorists. Converting current toll-free roads to tolls; charging for congestion; using fuel taxes to build or even to guarantee toll road bonds all brought noticeable, negative reactions from motorists. When asked:

Should states be allowed to put tolls on existing toll-free roads?

Favor 29% Oppose 71%

Should tolls be charged on congested roads to help reduce the number of cars on the road during peak periods?

Favor 27% Oppose 73%

Should federal and state fuel tax revenue that motorists pay be used to construct new toll roads?

Yes 29% No 71%

Should state gas taxes be used to guarantee toll road bonds?

Yes 34% No 66%

HIGHWAY PROBLEMS/PRIORITIES
Compared to three years ago, motorists rate the condition of state highways in their area as:

Improved 38%
Stayed the same 29
Declined 33

When asked to rate the most important highway improvement from among several choices, they rated as their highest priority the following:

Four-laning of existing two-lane roads 32%
Eliminating commuter bottlenecks 31
Resurfacing existing four-lane roads 24
Adding more safety features 9
(guardrails, median barriers, etc.)
Widening of secondary road bridges 4

DRIVER LICENSING
Testing drivers at license renewal time was strongly supported. However, support varied for the different types of tests and test combinations. “Eye test only” was the most preferred renewal test scheme. Despite recent high-profile crashes and commentary about driver retesting, the currently preferred test has not varied noticeably from those favored in polls taken in the ’90s.

Eye test only 41%
Eye, written and road tests 30
Eye and written tests 15
No test at renewal 13
Written test only 1

Tests should apply to all drivers, regardless of age, was the feelings of 68 percent. Of those (32 percent) saying the tests should apply to those of a certain age, 47 percent wanted 70 years of age and older; 16 percent thought 80 years of age and older should be the standard for retesting.

ENVIRONMENT
Motorists are beginning to understand that cars and light trucks are not the major source of harmful emissions that affect air quality, as they correctly ranked stationary sources as the source of most emissions. In the order of greatest source of emissions, they ranked stationary sources (large and small industries, power generating plants, commercial establishments, households) as No. 1; large trucks, buses and motorcycles as No. 2; off-road mobile sources (airplanes, locomotives, lawn and garden equipment, boats, construction equipment) as No. 3; and cars and light trucks as No. 4.

While newer model cars and light trucks produce significantly less emissions compared to earlier models, they still need attention to ensure that pollution controls are working properly. When asked how likely they would be to have their vehicle serviced if their vehicle’s warning system alerted them to a problem with its emissions system, 62 percent indicated “very likely” and 18 percent “somewhat likely.” Only 15 percent said “very unlikely” or “somewhat unlikely.”

SAFETY CONCERNS
Of the five safety concerns from which motorists selected, their No. 1 concern was “distracted drivers.” Their concerns include:

Distracted drivers 28%
Aggressive drivers 26
Drunk drivers 22
Large trucks 15
Road conditions 9



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