AAA: Policymakers failing to connect with motorists’ concerns

5/21/2013, 4:21 p.m.

— Sixty-two percent of U.S.motorists believe the federal government should invest more money to improveroadways, according to a recent public opinion poll conducted by AAA. The vast majority of drivers (81 percent) also believe the federal government should domore to improve the condition of roads and bridges.

“Most Americans recognize the needfor increased transportation funding because they drive over potholes and bumpyroads every day,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, manager of public and government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Unfortunately, the main concerns voiced bymotorists about transportation and driving differ markedly from the pointsgenerally expressed by policymakers to promote funding legislation.”

When asked for their concernsregarding transportation and driving their cars, issues identified by drivers included the reliability and safety of their car (34 percent) and the direct financial cost of driving (19 percent). Other major concerns included thebehavior of other drivers (15 percent), safety/road accidents (15 percent) andthe gas mileage/fuel efficiency of their vehicle (15 percent).

According to AAA’s recently released ‘Your Driving Costs’ report, the average cost to own and operate a car this yearrose 1.96 percent to 60.8 cents per mile, or $9,122 per year, based upon 15,000 miles of annual driving.

“Policymakers and transportationadvocates are failing to connect with the public on the practical concerns thatmatter most to motorists,” continued Meade. “Motorists want to hear about howtheir elected officials can improve their daily commute by repairing thepothole down the street or the bumpy road around the corner.”

Nearly seven out of 10 (68 percent) motorists believe the federal government should make “reducingcongestion on the roads” a top transportation priority. Traffic jams andcrowded roads waste billions of dollars a year in time and fuel, and causessignificant frustration for many drivers. Federal transportation funding cansupport increased capacity and expanded roadways.

Motorists who feel that the federal government should increase taxes or fees to improveroadways support a number of options for increasing transportation funding, including:

· Replacing the per-gallon gas tax with a national gasoline salestax (55 percent)

· Creating a new national sales tax dedicated to transportation (47 percent)

· Expanding the use of tolls to Interstate highways without then (47 percent)

· Creating a carbon tax on fossil fuels (45 percent)

· Replacing the federal gas tax with a per-miles-driven fee (37 percent)

· Creating an energy tax on all sources of energy (35 percent)

· Increasing the federal per-gallon gas tax (27 percent)