(See also problems and benefits of transport.)


The annual external costs of road use in the U.K. have been estinated as follows (in billions of UKP):

Air pollution 19.7
Congestion 17.5
Accidents 9.4
Noise 2.6
Road damage 1.5
Climate change 0.1
(Road building not included)
Total 50.8 £Bn.

This contrasts with the revenues obtained by the exchequer from motorists via fuel taxes and duty (Fuel tax: 12.5, Excise duty: 3.6; Total: 16.1 £Bn). Thus motorists are being subsidized by an amount three times larger than that which they pay via taxes and duty.


  1. The figures represent external costs - that is, costs not borne by the road user, but which the rest of society must pay. Such costs therefore represent an indirect subsidy to road use.

  2. The costs of road construction is not included. The figure gives the costs incurred by road users in using the road system as it is.

  3. The figures have been collated in Bowers (1996): "The Real Costs of Motoring", published by the Environmental Transport Association. This document sets out clearly the basis for calculations, including any interpretations made and arguments why they are valid.

  4. Each figure has been calculated using Government sources as far as possible.

  5. The figures are made up as follows:

  6. The following costs are incurred because of road use but have not been included. The costs to the NHS of treating ailments due to insufficient exercise due to excessive car use is one important omission.

    Copyright (c) Andrew Basden 1998 and Environmental Transport Association, 1996. 10 September 1999 moved to facts/. 16 May 2011 link to andrew repaired.