HC Deb 25 November 1953 vol 521 cc337-9
8. Mr. Keenan

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he is considering the dangers arising out of the unrestricted use of motor headlights on roads; and what steps he is taking to avoid the dangers which arise from the misuse of headlights.

16. Mr. D. Jones

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he is now in a position to make a statement on the action he proposes to take on the question of the universal system of headlamp dipping on mechanically propelled road vehicles.

Mr. Molson

We are acutely aware of the problem of headlamp dazzle. Many suggestions have been made on this subject, but we are not satisfied that any of the methods so far proposed offers a satisfactory solution. A series of international tests, in which our technical advisers are taking part, is to be held in America next year, and my right hon. Friend proposes to await the outcome of these before considering further action in this country. As regards dipping, we do not think it desirable at present to go beyond the provisions of the Highway Code, which advises motorists to dip their headlamps when meeting other vehicles unless there are exceptional circumstances which make it unsafe to do so.

Mr. Keenan

Is the Minister aware that the absence of regulations means that only by observing the courtesy of the road does an individual dip his headlights? Is the Minister aware that because this is not done very serious accidents are caused, particularly on country roads. Is it not true that in France there are regulations which do something to enforce the dipping of lights to prevent this type of accident?

Mr. Molson

The question of whether it is desirable to make the dipping of headlights compulsory was considered. It was decided not to do so for two reasons. The first was the difficulty of prescribing precisely the occasions and the time when lights were to be dipped and, secondly, the difficulty of enforcing any such law.

Mr. Jones

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that since May, 1952, representations were made to his Department by a trade union catering for a large number of omnibus drivers expressing grave apprehension at the variety of instructions relating to headlight dipping? Is he further aware that in February, 1953, his right hon. Friend informed the trade union concerned that he was considering a report he had received from the Road Research Laboratory? How much longer will the right hon. Gentleman consider the matter before coming to a decision?

Mr. Molson

The Road Research Laboratory is constantly at work on this subject. We have discovered that a large proportion of the headlamps in use on the roads are not correctly focussed, which undoubtedly greatly increases the danger. This matter is under constant consideration and discussion, and experiments are constantly being undertaken by the Road Research Laboratory on the subject, but, as I mentioned in my reply, no final decision will be come to until after the experiments have taken place in the United States.

Mr. R. Bell

Does my hon. Friend realise that this matter is rather urgent and has been under consideration for a very long time? Is it possible to introduce some such system as there is in France of having yellow headlamps, without prejudice to a later and better solution? Will the Department confer with the Home Office to ensure that the existing lighting Regulations requiring that lamps are properly focussed and that the dipping device is in working order are better enforced?

Mr. Molson

In the first place, it is important that we should not constantly alter the Regulations. Therefore, it is very much better for us to wait until we are quite convinced that we can improve the present Regulations. Research is taking place upon this matter the whole time as I have said, and we are fully alive to its importance and urgency.