It is expected for the Prime Minister, David Cameron to announce today his plans to increase investments in privatised roads and motorways across the UK. The plan is being considered as a way to cut down on traffic across the country, as those who wish to use motorways or ‘fast track’ lanes will have to pay at toll booths in order to gain access. However, there have been worries that this will cause a ‘two-tier’ system for motorists and could even lead to more accidents on the road.
The plan is for private firms to operate and build new highways that could install pay-as-you-go fast lanes, or toll booths for motorways. Another proposal is that users of the new highways would pay a higher rate of road tax to cover the costs, and those that use the older B-roads or single lane A-roads would see a cut in duty. A source from the government has said that they are planning on investing in new highways as “Speeding up the transport network will cut costs and save time for business in the long term.”
However, there have been concerns over the new plans, with the AA saying that having more private roads will lead to a ‘first class and second class’ road system, and that the increase in traffic diversions could lead to more accidents on the road. It is a worry that the only members of the public that will benefit from new privatised highways are those with enough money to pay for the tolls, whilst those in the lower earning brackets will be left to fend for themselves.
The knock-on effects of this proposal has also not been fully discussed by the government, for instance car insurance companies may be inclined to change their policies depending on whether drivers plan to use the new privatised roads. Also there needs to be considerations as to how safe these new ‘fast track’ lanes will be, and how the government will fund maintenance to roads that are not owned by companies.