Letter: Road taxes fail to cover social costs

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The Independent Online
Sir: Ray Mitcham (Letters, 6 December) has fallen into an old trap in arguing that motorists 'already pay through the nose for the use of roads'. Road tax revenues in 1992-93 were about pounds 14bn. Road costs (construction and servicing) were about pounds 6bn. But the social and environmental impacts of road use include some part of the congestion, accidents, air pollution, noise and accident costs.

Our own estimates suggest that these total about pounds 20-25bn each year, so that road taxes pay only about half the true social costs of road transport. Not only motorway charges are justified, but also other road-use charges, including a continuously rising real price of petrol.

Yours sincerely,

DAVID PEARCE

Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment

University College London

London, WC1

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