RAC Annual Report

An article appeared on the Beeb today, just a bit of churnalism, the RAC have released a report on their annual survey, there’s nothing surprising about it, drivers feel hard done by and the RAC are standing up for them. I just find some of the views expressed by the survey and the RAC quite amusing.

For example

The report said that while the cost of living in the UK had gone up by almost 125% since 1989, many motoring costs had risen much faster, with fuel costing 303% more and the combined cost of tax and insurance up 344%

Why the comparison with the cost of living? Presumably this compares it to things like food, but for several thousand years food has been getting cheaper in real terms as its production becomes ever more efficent. Motoring though has been becoming less efficient in some ways, as we build more roads we get more traffic. So why not look at the cost of motoring in real terms? The Economist did this a couple of years ago and found that running costs were rising slower than GDP and overall costs were falling.

Transport costs_1


I think what the RAC probably mean is that in real terms other things are getting cheaper faster, but that’s not surprising.

It goes on…

“The average price of a litre of unleaded petrol was less than 39p in 1989 and more than £1.34 in 2013, the report stated.”

Is crude oil a good comparator? I’ll let you be the judge of that. May 1989 crude oil $18.46/barrel – June 2013 crude oil $103.03/barrel.
Crude oil has therefore increased x5.5 in the same period that unleaded has increased x3.4. Bargain! If unleaded had increased at the same rate as crude it would be £2.14 even without tax increases.

“Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, warned that people on the lowest incomes were “drowning under the weight of motoring costs”.

He said: “The government’s recent freeze on fuel duty, while welcome, is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic – ultimately futile.”

Ultimate futility? Like complaining about the costs of something and the effects of those costs on poor people while simultaneously trying to draw them even further into a transport system that makes them vulnerable to those costs. Chester Cycling did a nice piece on the vulnerability of a transport monoculture. If the price of fuel skyrockets or if fuel shortages occur, the poorest people will be the first to feel the pain. If Professor Glaister really cared about transport poverty and the poor he would be trying to wean them off their cars and onto a nice cheap form of transport such as the bicycle!

The article ends with this wonderful paragraph, someone at the BBC webteam has a sense of humour…

“The RAC survey also revealed 92% consider themselves to be law-abiding motorists – but 65% admit to breaking the 70mph limit on motorways.”

I believe this is what might be called cognitive dissonance, because at least 57% of those questioned manage to hold two contradictory points of view simultaneously. Breaking the speed limit is more of a point of fact than a point of view, but 58% of people have managed to break the speed limit and consider themselves to be law-abiding, they have internally rationalised away the fact that breaking the speed limit means they aren’t law abiding. What they have probably done is justified it to themselves by saying “I don’t break the speed limit anymore than anyone else does, everyone does it therefore there is nothing wrong with it, I abide by the laws that matter”


2 thoughts on “RAC Annual Report

  1. It must be fun to work for the RAC or the AA; no matter how badly the figures are fudged to make a point which differs from reality, you can count on a few media outlets to uncritically churnalise your releases. Perhaps the key to the success of these organisations is that to them, no matter how pampered and subsidised drivers are, it will never be enough.

  2. Pingback: The RAC Again | icycleliverpool

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