HC Deb 03 March 1952 vol 497 cc7-10
13. Sir Ian Fraser

asked the Minister of Transport, in view of the substantial increase in road accidents last year, what proposals he has to make to improve road safety.

Mr. Maclay

I hope that it will be possible to devote about £1½ million in the coming financial year to the improvement of road conditions at accident black spots. I have also under consideration with my colleagues arrangements for extending adult patrols and mobile police patrols. I hope to receive at an early date recommendations from the Committee on Road Safety for the improvement of the Highway Code and for reducing accidents involving motor cyclists.

All this should help, but I would most earnestly appeal to all road users to remember that it is on their careful, courteous and considerate behaviour that road safety must mainly depend.

Sir I. Fraser

Can the Minister strengthen his means of communication and consultation with local authorities, seeing that many of them feel that their advice about the number and siting of crossings, and so on, would be of the greatest value?

Mr. Maclay

I feel that we try to get into the closest touch with local authorities. They are, of course, represented on the Road Safety Committee, of which my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary is Chairman. I am very anxious to get the best possible advice on the question of road safety.

15. Mr. Janner

asked the Minister of Transport whether, in view of the large number of accidents to children on the roads, he will issue a special short Highway Code for children in appropriate wording so that this can be available for them to be taught in schools and elsewhere.

Mr. Maclay

I have considered the hon. Member's suggestion carefully, but am not convinced that such a publication would be useful. The present official Highway Code can readily be used for training children in road safety and, as the hon. Member is no doubt aware, two unofficial highway codes for children have been produced by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Mr. Janner

As the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has thought it advisable, may I ask whether the Minister considers they are reasonable people, anxious about safety? In the circumstances, is he not prepared to consider with the Minister of Education the publication of a very simple code, which might be learned by rote by school children so that accidents might be prevented?

Mr. Maclay

I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman has seen the Royal Society's booklets, which I will send to him. I think they are very good. It is doubtful whether we should duplicate the number of Highway Codes.

24. Sir Waldron Smithers

asked the Minister of Transport if he will recommend the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the incidence of accidents on the roads; and to suggest remedies for reducing their number.

Mr. Maclay

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to the right hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Bottomley), on 25th February, of which I am sending him a copy.

Sir W. Smithers

Will my hon. Friend given an assurance that he is leaving no stone unturned to reduce the number of accidents, and please consult experts who are free from all political influence?

Mr. Maclay

Yes, I can give my hon. Friend my absolute assurance that I am treating this question of road accidents as one of the gravest questions we have to face, certainly in my Department.

Mr. A. G. Bottomley

Is the Minister aware that there is a need for co-ordination in Government Departments? The Road Safety Committee, which the hon. Gentleman said last week was handling the matter, cannot deal with that. It is only by focusing public attention on the whole of the matter by the appointment of a Royal Commission that that can be done.

Mr. George Thomas

Would the Minister say how far this problem is made worse by drivers being under the influence of drink when driving cars? If so, will he consider appointing a committee to advise him on special regulations for such persons?

Mr. Maclay

I do not think that that arises out of this Question.

Sir Robert Grimston

Has my hon. Friend considered getting, or is he getting, any information from the insurance companies on the incidence of accidents? There must be a great deal of information in their claims departments.

Mr. Maclay

Perhaps my hon. Friend would put that question on the Order Paper. It is an important point.

28. Sir Herbert Williams

asked the Minister of Transport when he next proposes to publish the report on road accidents.

Mr. Maclay

I assume that my hon. Friend has in mind the publication of an analysis of the road accident statistics. I hope to publish an analysis of the 1951 figures in due course.

Sir H. Williams

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, but does he realise that if only he had published that analysis, most of the Questions he has had to answer today would never have been tabled?

Mr. Maclay

That thought had crossed my mind.