Is there such a thing as Road Tax?
Road Tax abolished in 1937
Last year a young driver boasted on Twitter about hitting a cyclist, the tweet went viral and this driver later appeared in court. She was charged with driving carelessly and failing to report an accident, she later said in a TV interview that she regrets the tweet and didn't drive badly. Her tweet enraged cyclists because she claimed right of way because #bloodycyclists “don’t pay road tax”.
Cyclists often report that aggressive motorists justify their behaviour on the basis that they alone pay "road tax". But there is no such thing. In fact road tax was abolished in 1937 and replaced by Vehicle Excise Duty.
Vehicle Excise Duty is a tax on cars not roads. This tax goes into the general Treasury fund, sometimes referred to as VED ‘car tax’ it could be classified as a pollution tax since it is now based on the size of the engine of the car and and the emissions. Ultra low emission vehicles are exempt.
The word "road tax" implies that the tax should pay for roads and that drivers have more right to road space than pedestrians, horse-riders and cyclists. In another confrontation recorded by helmet-camera a cyclist accuses a driver of missing him by just a few inches. He is asked in return "do you pay road tax?" In another a cyclist is told he has no right to be on the road "no pay, no say".
Motorists who've been cut up by aggressive cyclists or seen them jump red lights may have some sympathy with the idea that the roads would be better if those in cars had formal priority. The "but I pay road tax" syndrome so annoyed cycle journalist Carlton Reid that he set up a website, ipayroadtax.com. Its purpose is to persuade official bodies to lead the way in banishing this durable phrase. "It's dangerous if motorists think that because they pay car tax they have an entitlement to the road," he says. "A small minority of drivers seem to think it gives them the right to drive badly. Language is very powerful. If we can persuade all official bodies to use the term car tax then maybe in a generation or two Mondeo Man will have stopped calling it road tax.”
So we pay ‘car tax’ not ‘road tax’ but the motorist is still paying either way? What do you think should cyclists pay a tax? Should anyone riding a horse pay a tax?