General election 2015: Which is the best party for drivers?

The 2015 general election is now mere weeks away, and the parties’ campaigns are in full swing.

It’s an important time for the whole country, but how are the parties looking for your vote planning to help the millions of drivers who make up a huge proportion of the electorate?

A recent poll by motoring magazine Auto Express asked readers which issues would be most likely to sway their votes in the general election, with things like road maintenance, fuel prices and increasing speed limits cropping up the most often.

In the past few years that the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government has been in power, millions has been invested into improving infrastructure, increasing the viability of alternatively-fuelled cars and much more. But is it enough?

Critics argue that, despite all the money poured into exercises like scrapping the tax disc and paper licence counterparts to save on admin fees and other legislative measures introduced, it’s still just a drop in the ocean.

So with the past few years in hindsight, how are each of the major parties planning to deal with issues related to the everyday motorist, and can they make good on their promises?

We’ve outlined the major key motoring-related points that each party has listed in their speeches and manifestos to try and give you a helping hand when you head to the voting booths on May 7th. Read on to find out more!

Conservatives:

David Cameron’s Conservative party has taken an active approach in their commitments to the everyday motorist for 2015, having made comments on a range of issues from car insurance prices to electric vehicles and driverless cars.

The main points addressed by the Tories are as follows:

–  £15 billion road investment

Previously announced late last year, the current government reiterated its promise to pour a total of £15 billion into the construction and repair of roads around the country, with plans to alleviate the worst traffic spots in the country. Currently, the Tories have spent more money on the roads than any other party since the 1970’s.

– Freezing fuel duty

The party also reminded voters how it had continued to freeze fuel duty since coming to power, and to its credit, has cancelled four proposed rises in petrol cost so far, making fuel 13p cheaper than it would have been.

– Funding to fix potholes

As well as its commitment to investing in roads, the Conservative party has pledged enough funding to fix 18 million potholes around the country between 2015 and 2021, an issue that has irked drivers for years.

– Better deal for electric car owners

David Cameron also announced that if his party emerged victorious in this year’s election, £37 million would be invested into the construction of new charging points around the UK to make life easier for electric car owners.

Elsewhere, the Tories noted that they want almost every car in van to be a zero emissions vehicle by 2050, with £500 million earmarked to achieve this.

– Crackdown on fraudsters and fairer insurance costs

The party stated that one of the major causes of increased insurance costs is fraud, and announced that it would “crack down” on fraudsters and create new independent medical panels to examine whiplash claimants.

It also said that it would reduce the cost of compensation claims by cutting the fees lawyers can make by processing basic, uncontested claims.

– Plan to get rid of more toll roads

As well as that, the Tories announced that they would strive to abolish more toll roads around the country.

Labour:

Similarly to the Conservatives, the Labour party has put a large emphasis on maintenance and safety, knowing that these are issues particularly close to drivers’ hearts. Having vowed to fix the roads and enforce safer conditions for young and vulnerable drivers, their promises include:

– Creation of long-term roads strategy

Ed Miliband’s party has addressed the state of the roads by suggesting that a long-term strategy needs to be drawn up and put in place to improve both local and larger roads in the coming years, and to more effectively monitor and deal with necessary repairs.

– Fixing “pothole Britain”

Labour’s shadow secretary of state for transport, Michael Dugher MP, said that Labour would take control of the pothole epidemic on local roads, prioritising funding for local roads which need repairs the most and fixing the so-called “pothole Britain”.

– Closer collaboration with councils

The party also pledged to support and work more closely with local councils, providing them with new tools and creating inter-council ‘pothole and street works’ plans to stop the same roads being dug up again and again while others are ignored.

– Bring an end to unfair insurance prices

Labour previously suggested that the insurance industry offers cheaper travel-to-work-only insurance for young drivers, and has also backed black box telematics insurance as an alternative method of insuring young drivers.

The party sees high insurance costs as deterring younger people from taking job offers or staying in education, which it hopes will have a knock-on effect for the unemployment crisis.

– Prioritise road safety

Labour also said that it will put measures in place to ensure that young drivers become safer drivers, through the creation of a ‘supportive environment’ by equipping youngsters to be better drivers via early road safety education.

– Keep fuel prices low

The party has also intimated that it would strive to make efforts into keeping fuel prices low by freezing fuel duty in the same manner as the Conservatives.

As well as that, Labour says that it will launch inquiries into why exactly cheaper oil prices are not necessarily being reflected in lower forecourt prices, and that it will make efforts to ensure “real transparency” in the fuel industry.

– Set Britain up as a low emissions global leader

If elected, Labour claimed last year that it would deliver a national framework of low emissions zones to tackle air pollution in towns and cities, similar to the London Congestion Zone.

The zones would aim to keep the most polluting vehicles out of the most polluted parts of towns and cities, while the party would also place emphasis on the adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles in a bid to make Britain a world leader in low emissions cars and vans.

Liberal Democrats:

The Lib Dems are optimistic about their equality for all approach, looking to nix road tolls, and showing a particular interest in developing and expanding upon the electric vehicle industry.

However, their manifesto includes some seriously harsh blows to motorists that might leave them unpopular in the eyes of drivers. Their main points include:

– Increase road tax

Nick Clegg announced that the Lib Dems would bring in a hike in vehicle excise duty if they were voted back into power, equating to an extra £25 per person on average.

The party claimed that due to the increased uptake of low emissions vehicles, less and less drivers would be eligible to pay for road tax. However, this leaves motorists who own less efficient cars paying a lot more to make up for it.

– Zero Carbon Britain Act

Key to the Lib Dems’ stance on motoring is the radical Zero Carbon Britain Act, which aims to set a new legally binding target to bring greenhouse emissions from traffic and industry to zero by 2050.

– Emphasis on low emissions vehicles

The party also stressed its target of having only low emissions vehicles on the UK roads by 2040, and committed itself to working more closely with car manufacturers to facilitate new electric vehicles, plus hydrogen-fuelled cars.

Clegg previously announced that the party would award a £100 million prize for the first manufacturer that builds a low emissions vehicle that makes it into the top five best-selling cars in the UK.

– Improve the state of the roads

The Lib Dems have said that they would continue to oversee the spending of a £200 million budget to improve the state of roads and highways, in addition to £782 million the government has previously planned to provide in the coming years for roadway maintenance.

– Ensure young drivers are safe

Clegg’s party also said that it would outline a number of policies to help protect young drivers and other road users and to increase general on-road safety. As well as that, the party hopes that by targeting specific safety measures at the drivers most likely to have accidents, it can reduce insurance premiums for all motorists.

– Freeze fuel duties

Like Labour and the Conservatives, the Lib Dems have also promised as part of their election campaign to keep fuel duty frozen, in order to pass on savings to motorists, ensure cheaper petrol prices and stimulate the economy by giving the public more spending money.

UKIP:

Attempting to position themselves as the party for the everyman, Nigel Farage’s party has pledged that their policies have been created specifically with the motorist in mind.

– Restrict speed camera usage

One of the key points in UKIP’s attempts to appeal to the everyday motorist is the promise that, if they win the election, they’ll ensure that speed cameras are used only as a deterrent and not as a “revenue raiser”.

– Abolish toll roads

UKIP has also promised to remove toll roads wherever possible, and oppose pay as you go road charging schemes, claiming that they’re an unnecessary cost to the motorist.

– Push authorities to offer free parking

The party also claims that it will put pressure on local authorities to offer at least 30 minutes worth of free parking in town centres, high streets and shopping parades, while it also claimed that it will try to make hospital parking free for all users.

– Repeal Climate Change Act

In stark contrast to the rest of the parties, UKIP has made no bones about its scepticism of climate change, with Nigel Farage even going so far as to rubbish the notion of introducing wind turbines to generate clean energy.

As part of this, UKIP states that it will repeal the Climate Change Act, and will also support fracking, encourage redevelopment of traditional power stations and abolish ‘green taxes’, along with any emphasis on low emissions vehicles and infrastructure.

– Maintain roads to a higher standard

However, like the rest of the parties, UKIP still claims that it’ll work hard to fix potholes and maintain the UK’s roads to a higher standard, which it claims will be funded by a freeze in council tax.

– Lower fuel duty

Unlike the other major parties, who have all pledged to freeze fuel duty, UKIP has promised that it will lower fuel duty to help jump-start the economy, generate growth and create more jobs, while this would also mean much cheaper fuel for motorists.

The Green Party:

Without a doubt, the most controversial of the parties’ manifestos is that proposed by the Greens, with a number of radical ideas, particularly around road infrastructure. Unfortunately, this means that many of the policies adopted by the party mightn’t go down all that well with motorists:

– Revolutionise infrastructure

The Greens have pledged to revolutionise the country’s infrastructure, calling for the £15 billion currently earmarked to improve the roads to instead be used to subsidise public transport.

The party has also stated that it would invest more heavily in infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists and that it will also protect, expand and properly fund non-vehicular access to national parks.

– Fix existing potholes

However, despite much of the emphasis on roadways eschewed in favour of alternative methods of transportation, the Greens have said that they would strive to fix potholes on existing roads in a bid to improve road quality for drivers.

– Cut casualties with lower speed limits

Under Natalie Bennett’s leadership, the Green Party also wants to bring speed limits down to 20mph in residential areas, plus in main roads close to where people live and work.

It says that this will not only cut fuel use, but will also dramatically reduce the amount of casualties on the roads, while the lower limits will be enforced by new speed cameras and increased policing.

– Introduce presumed liabilities

In one of the more bizarre parts of the manifesto, the Greens announced that they would introduce presumed liabilities for motorists involved in accidents with pedestrians or cyclists.

According to leader Natalie Bennett, drivers would have to prove they’re not at fault if they’re involved in a collision with a pedestrian or a cyclist, otherwise they’ll automatically be considered guilty.

How do you think the promises of each party measures up? What sort of laws would you introduce if you were in charge? Why not let us know your thoughts on our Facebook and Twitter pages!