How Motoring Has Changed

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Its been 28 years since I passed my test, and 25 years since I started driving professionally. In that time a lot has changed on the roads so I was interested when The RAC published the 25th edition of its annual report on motoring.

So, what has actually changed in motoring since their first report in 1989? ……..

In 1989, when the RAC produced its first annual report on motoring, the average cost of unleaded petrol was 38.5p per litre and diesel cost 36.1p per litre.

Fast forward to 2013 and a litre of unleaded costs 134.2p, while the same amount of diesel will set you back 138.9p – a whopping increase of 264 per cent. Wow!!

It’s no wonder that 61 per cent of motorists say the rising cost of motoring is the most noticeable change over the past quarter-century.

Cost is the main concern for 46 per cent of motorists, with the price of fuel a particular worry for those living in rural and suburban areas.

You can work out the changing cost of filling up your motor with’s fuel prices calculator.

Some 14 per cent of drivers say they are being forced to restrict their social lives due to rising motoring expenses, up from 9 per cent who voiced this concern in 2012.

Motoring taxation

Tax continues to be a sore subject with drivers – almost half of motorists- 47 per cent – believe high taxes are used to deter them from using their car.

And 90 per cent of motorists believe they are hit by high taxes because they are easy targets for the government.

10 million more vehicles on the road

In 1989, there were 24.2 million licensed vehicles on the roads, but by the end of 2012 that number had grown to 34.5 million.

It’s no wonder that many of Britain’s motorists feel they’re going nowhere fast.

Some 45 per cent of drivers surveyed for the RAC’s report on motoring think that gridlocked roads will be the norm in the next 25 years.

And 22 per cent of motorists say increased congestion on motorways and in urban centres is a growing issue in Britain today.

Meanwhile, 20 per cent believe the increase in traffic levels has made it harder than ever to find a parking space.

According to research by sat nav firm TomTom, Belfast and Bristol are the most congested cities in the UK, with London coming in third.

Most popular cars: 1989 versus 2013


In 1989, Ford dominated the bestselling cars list, with the five most popular models being the Ford Escort, Ford Sierra, Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Cavalier, and the Vauxhall Astra.

Today, Ford is still in pole position – At the end of 2012, the most common car in Great Britain was the Ford Focus (1.4 million on the road) followed by the Ford Fiesta (1.3 million).

Ford accounts for 15 per cent and Vauxhall for 12 per cent of all cars on our roads today.

Decline in motorists’ manners

The behaviour of other drivers is deemed to have deteriorated over the years.

Two-thirds – 65 per cent – think road rage has got worse instead of better, and 62 per cent believe the courtesy of other drivers has slipped.

The behaviour of other drivers on the road today is also highlighted with 28 per cent of motorists’ claiming driving is more aggressive than it was in 1989.

Motorists’ predictions in 1989

  • 56 per cent predicted cars would be banned from all town centres. While not true across the board, many town centres have introduced pedestrian-only areas. And some say this has contributed to the death of the high street, as motorists stay away from town centres due to a lack of cheap parking.
  • 16 per cent thought the speed limit on motorways would be raised to 100mph. There has been much debate on the subject. However, in June it was reported that government plans to increase the limit to 80mph had been put on ice.
  • 9 per cent of motorists predicted that by 2001 most cars would run on electricity. Electric vehicles are still very much a niche market. A recent RAC Foundation report predicts that electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are unlikely to reach mass production (defined as 100,000 units sold) until the early 2020s.
  • 7 per cent thought that cars would be driven by computers and there would be no need for drivers. While not true just yet driverless car technology is being developed, so in another 25 years this may well be reality.

Motorists’ predictions for 2038

  • 78 per cent of motorists believe number      plate recognition technology will be far more widely used.
  • 44 per cent of drivers predict all roads      will have average speed cameras.
  • 39 per cent of motorists forecast more      road pricing will be introduced and they will be required to pay a charge      for every mile they drive.
  • 55 per cent of drivers believe all      motorways will have tolls and 53 per cent reckon drivers will have to pay      to enter all cities in the UK.

I wonder what the next 25 years will being?


This article was written by Sarah-H