More than 600 members responded to a poll about traffic safety issues and transportation 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, Arkansas and Mississippi who responded to the poll.

Before one looks at raising taxes for anything, there should be a perceived need. We asked if additional revenue is needed for highway maintenance and improvement. Yes was the answer of 73 percent of respondents.

While no one likes tax increases or new taxes, additional funds to improve and maintain highways will be given consideration at both the state and federal levels. So we asked members to rank the least objectionable of four tax methods or increases, assuming all would raise about the same amount of revenue.

The order of least objectionable was:
1. One-half cent general sales tax increase
2. 5-percent sales tax on gasoline
3. 9-cent increase in the per gallon gasoline tax
4. $100 increase in annual vehicle registration fee

More and more communities are looking at automatic enforcement systems for not only red light violations but a host of other traffic infractions, as well. Is the public ready for any of this?

How about photo or automatic enforcement of:
Red light violations 77% Favor
Stop sign violations 68% Favor
Speeding on a major highway 60% Favor
Speeding in a construction zone 76% Favor
Speeding in a school zone 84% Favor

While they seem favorably disposed to additional photo or automatic enforcement, when asked if there should be a tolerance for speeding above the posted limit, on major roads nearly 60 percent wanted a 10 mph-plus over the posted speed limit before being issued a ticket. One-in-five wanted 10 mph-plus tolerance in work zones and one-in-10 wanted a 10 mph-plus fudge factor in school zones.

With a presidential election fast approaching, many politicians are offering up ways to decrease the country’s dependence on foreign oil. When offered a series of things to do to reduce our oil dependency, motorists selected their favorites:

Increase funding for research on alternative fuels 24%
Allow more drilling and oil exploration in North America 22
Establish national conservation programs 19
Increase public transportation options 18
Increase subsidies for alternative fuel, such as ethanol 14
Increase taxes to reduce public’s driving 2

In May of 2007, the national average price for regular gasoline topped out at $3.23 and we may see even higher prices in 2008. How much would the cost of gasoline have to get to before motorists seriously consider making major changes, like carpooling, using mass transit, walking/cycling, purchasing a more fuel-efficient vehicle, moving closer to work or reducing leisure trips? They replied:

Have already made changes
due to high gas prices 54%
$3.50 10
$4.00 13
More than $4 11
Would not make changes 12

High gasoline prices have already motivated most drivers to change their driving habits. The following changes would be considered as the price of gas increases:

Fewer/shorter leisure trips 36%
Buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle 29
Reducing driving by walking/cycling 12
Taking mass transit 10
Carpooling 9
Moving closer to job 4

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

Improved 29%
Stayed the same 31
Declined 40

AAA members responding from Arkansas ran counter to the overall rating as 44 percent rated their roads improved and only 26 percent indicated that their road conditions had declined.

Louisiana residents were the most critical as the majority (53 percent) rated their roads as having declined. In Mississippi, slightly better numbers rated roads improved (35 percent) as those that offered a “declined” rating (29 percent).

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

Four laning of existing two-laned roads 36%
Eliminating commuter bottlenecks 29
Resurfacing existing four-laned roads 22
Adding more road safety features (guardrails, etc.) 9
Widening secondary road bridges 4

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

Distracted drivers 40%
Aggressive drivers 19
Drunk drivers 19
Large trucks 15
Road conditions 6

Mar/Apr 2008 Issue

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