HC Deb 27 March 1950 vol 473 cc26-7
43. Mr. Janner

asked the Minister of Transport when it is proposed to introduce amendments of the existing pedestrian crossing regulations, based on the recommendations of the Committee on Road Safety, and which will have the effect of removing certain ambiguities.

Mr. Barnes

In spite of very long and careful consideration of this matter, so far it has been found impracticable to frame regulations in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee on Road Safety in a form which would define in clear and simple language the respective rights and obligations of pedestrians and drivers of vehicles in all circumstances at controlled crossings. Legally, effective regulations for this purpose would, in fact, be considerably more complex than those now existing. They would not be easily understood by the public and for that reason it would be difficult to secure their observance.

I am, therefore, considering whether it would be preferable to deal with the matter so far as controlled crossings are concerned by giving guidance in the Highway Code to drivers and pedestrians. Failure to observe any provisions of the Highway Code may be taken into account by a court in any civil or criminal proceedings to which it is relevant. Uncontrolled crossings can be effectively dealt with by regulations.

Mr. Janner

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his reply, may I ask whether he is aware that the position is very, very serious and that there is terrible confusion about the use of these crossings, with the consequent result of very serious accidents at times? If he includes this in the Highway Code, would he publicise the regulations as widely as possible, so that the number of these accidents can be reduced?

Mr. Barnes

Yes, Sir, certainly. I should like to emphasise that this matter is causing me very great concern. If new regulations are to define these rights they must be clear and simple for the public, but so far the local authorities and the police have not been able to agree.

Mr. Moelwyn Hughes

On the other hand, from the motorist's point of view, is the Minister aware that if pedestrians were fully to exercise their rights on regulated crossings they could bring the traffic of London to a standstill in five minutes?

Mr. Barnes

Yes, but we can always depend upon the common sense of our people to avoid that.

Mr. Profumo

Who has the right of way at a pedestrian crossing when the lights are green to the motorist?

Mr. Barnes

I have just stated that the Committee have recommended on this, and that I am now awaiting advice as to whether we can put the recommendation into operation. I have stated repeatedly that the pedestrian has the right to cross at controlled crossings.