Better roads, cheaper fuel drive European popularity

Many British motorists are attracted to Europe by better maintained roads and lower fuel prices.

Many British motorists are attracted to Europe by better maintained roads and lower fuel prices. - Credit: supplied

European road trips are becoming increasingly popular among British motorists, with better maintained roads and lower fuel prices contributing to this popularity, a study has revealed.

The RAC surveyed 1,164 people, with 17% saying they drove to the continent purely because of the higher-quality roads.

Of those interviewed, 80% said there were fewer potholes in Europe than there were in Britain, while an additional 74% also said congestion wasn't as bad as it is back home.

Cheaper European fuel prices also appeal to British motorists, with 65% of survey participants claiming that a litre of fuel was cheaper on the continent than in the UK, while 30% felt there was little difference.

Because the UK government charges more duty on diesel than any other European Union country and has the fourth highest petrol duty rate, fuel prices in Europe are generally cheaper. Fuel duty, which is charged on petrol and diesel, currently stands at 57.95p per litre and generated more than £26bn for the Treasury in 2015.

RAC European breakdown spokesman Simon Williams said: 'Europe is clearly a big hit with British motorists as the quality and traffic-free nature of its roads make for a marked contrast with our own.

'The cheaper price of fuel is also very welcome, and even though we are currently enjoying an extended period of lower prices, the level of tax we pay to the government always limits how far pump prices can fall when the cost of oil is low. In Europe where fuel duty rates are lower the price of petrol and diesel is noticeably cheaper.'

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However, despite these perceived advantages associated with driving in Europe, the research also revealed a number of drawbacks.

The migrant crisis at the Channel Tunnel has affected the travel plans of 62% of survey respondents, while 22% have said they put off going to Europe by any mode of transport altogether.

Awareness of French speed limits was also fairly poor, with only 30% of people knowing the 50kmph speed limit for built-up areas, and 23% knowing the limit for rural motorway in good weather is 130kph.