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Motoring Issues

AAA poll takes the pulse of readers on important transportation topics.

More than 700 AAA members responded to a poll in the January/February issue of the AAA Southern Traveler about traffic safety issues and transportation concerns. Both state and federal legislators are being advised by AAA of the opinions expressed by its members in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi who responded to the poll.

HIGHWAY FUNDING

Studies have shown that not enough is being spent on our highway system to properly maintain it and provide for needed improvements to enhance safety and reduce congestion. When we asked if additional revenue is needed for highway maintenance and improvements, 73 percent of the respondents replied “yes,” which was nearly identical to earlier polls asking this question.

And how is it that you want your highway user payments to be spent? We asked respondents to allocate $100 of the highway user fees they pay (registration and fuel taxes) among several transportation improvement options in their area. On average, respondents allocated the $100 among the following:

$57.57 Maintenance/improvements to existing roads
18.26 New roads
13.59 Public transit
6.60 Bicycle and pedestrian safety projects
3.98 Recreational cycling and walking trails

One measure of the intensity respondents feel toward their preferred improvement is what percentage did not want any split and wanted all of their funds to go to a single project. The percentage of those wanting all $100 to go to their preferred project were:

25.8% Maintenance/improvements to existing roads
2.5 Public transit
2.3 New roads
1.2 Bicycle and pedestrian safety projects
0.5 Recreational cycling and walking trails

GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS

The possibility of trucks increasing in weight and length generated the most passionate responses in this year’s poll. Indeed, a resounding 89 percent of respondents voiced their opposition to proposals that have been discussed in Congress that would allow the weight of trucks using the Interstate Highway System to increase to 97,000 pounds from 80,000 pounds. And nearly as many respondents (87 percent) said that Congress should not lift the ban on expanding the use of longer combination vehicles on interstate highways.

Motorists voiced their concern with vehicle data ownership when responding to the statement, “Consumers should always be able to decide if information generated by their car can be shared and with whom.” Sixty-one percent strongly agreed with that statement, and another 13 percent somewhat agreed. Conversely, 12 percent somewhat or strongly disagreed with the statement.

Lowering the legal limit for a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) from .08 percent to .05 percent drew an equal amount of support and opposition. Thirty-three percent strongly supported it, while 32 percent strongly opposed. The remaining third of respondents were equally divided among somewhat supporting, neither supporting nor opposing, and somewhat opposing.

HIGHWAY CONDITIONS

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

Improved 26%
Stayed the same 33
Declined 41

AAA members in Arkansas were more encouraged about the condition of their roads than the overall ratings with 30 percent rating the roads as improved. However, 36 percent indicated road conditions had declined in Arkansas. In Mississippi, 24 percent said their roads had improved, while 43 percent rated them as declined. Louisiana residents were the most critical as 45 percent described their roads as declined.

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

Resurfacing existing four-lane roads 32%
Four laning of existing two-lane roads 26
Adding more road safety features
(guardrails, median barriers, etc.) 18
Eliminating commuter bottlenecks 17
Widening secondary road bridges 6

SAFETY CONCERNS

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

Distracted drivers 49%
Drunk drivers 15
Aggressive drivers 15
Road conditions 11
Large trucks 10

Mar/Apr 2014 Issue

 


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