HC Deb 11 March 1941 vol 369 cc1142-3
28. Sir Adam Maitland

asked the Minister of Transport what further steps he proposes to take with a view to reducing the number of road accidents?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. Montague)

In consultation with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and Minister of Home Security, I am proceeding as far as circumstances allow, on the following lines: (1) Influence on public opinion; (2) Safeguards in the black-out; (3) Enforcement of the law. In recent months there has been a serious deterioration in the conduct of all types of road users, and the publicity campaigns being conducted by the Ministry of Information and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents aim at bringing the public to a sense of the care which they must exercise if accidents on the roads are to be reduced.

The measures possible to safeguard the public against the effects of carelessness are very limited. It is a strategic necessity that the black-out should be preserved, but subject to the overriding necessity of avoiding visibility from the air, a reasonable driving light is now permitted. Aids to movement for all road users in the shape of white lines, white markings and lights on islands and other obstructions, as well as a reduced form of street lighting are being provided. Enforcement presents a difficult problem to the police, who have many additional responsibilities. It is not possible to continue on any extensive scale the special police patrols which promised much success before the war, but police supervision is not by any means being suspended, and in certain directions I hope it may be possible to intensify it during the coming months.

Sir I. Albery

I could not hear all the reply, but did I understand the hon. Member to say that persons using the roads in a black-out would have to wear something white?

Mr. Montague

No, the only reference to white was the marking of roads.

Sir I. Albery

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that it is impossible to see people who are in the road in a black-out unless they do wear something white?

Mr. Montague

In a broadcast which I myself made people were strongly advised to wear something white, but I think the hon. Member will see the difficulty there would be in enforcing any regulation that they must wear white.

Sir I. Albery

I cannot see any difficulty, and I ask the hon. Gentleman to give some further attention to this point in order to see whether there is any real difficulty.

Miss Rathbone

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind the desirability of issuing advice that persons should wear a white band at the bottom of the skirt or the bottom of the trouser leg, as drivers look to the ground and often cannot see a band on the arm? Many drivers have said that it is much easier to avoid women because they wear light stockings.

Mr. Montague

I am rather afraid that that question justifies my statement about the difficulty of enforcing any regulation of this kind. I should not like to have the job.

Mr. R. Gibson

Would the Minister recommend pedestrians to wear white gasmask containers?