HC Deb 08 April 1959 vol 603 cc196-8
49. Mr. Moss

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he has now made an analysis of the nature and bodily location of injuries sustained in road accidents by various categories of road users; and what conclusions he has arrived at in the interests of road safety.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation (Mr. G. R. H. Nugent)

It is not possible to obtain details of the nature of injuries sustained in all road accidents, but the Road Research Laboratory, in collaboration with the Medical Research Council, is undertaking some sample inquiries.

The latest available information showing the nature and location of accidents to various categories of road users involved in motor vehicle accidents is contained in an analysis for 1955 made by the Registrar-General for England and Wales, which I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Moss

Is not it surprising that these statistics are not available? Can the hon. Gentleman take steps to make them available from now on, since they have a most important bearing upon road accidents?

Cause Road user Total
Pedestrian Pedal cyclist Rider or passenger of motor cycle Rider or passenger of other vehicle
Fracture of skull 1,024 348 843 450 2,665
Head injury (excluding fracture) 308 55 171 129 663
Fracture of spine and trunk 220 35 68 124 447
Fracture of limbs 163 8 31 51 253
Internal injury of chest, abdomen and pelvis. 178 49 110 253 590
Other causes 130 26 45 104 305
TOTAL 2,023 521 1,268 1,111 4,923
54. Mr. Moss

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he is aware that the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, in conjunction with the British Hat and Allied Felt-makers Research Association, have produced a satisfactory cap and hat for the protection of motorists against head injury; and, in view of the fact that in January, 1959, nearly 40 per cent. of the vehicles involved in road accidents were private cars and over 60 per cent. were private cars, goods vehicles, public service vehicles and taxis together, and car drivers suffered a casualty increase of nearly 50 per cent., whether he will now make regulations on protective hats and caps for motorists similar to those which he made in 1957 for motor cyclists.

Mr. Nugent

I am aware that research work has been carried out on materials for protective hats and caps for motorists and their passengers. In addition to the Answer on this subject I gave to the hon. Member on 25th March, I should add that we have no powers, such as those in Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act, 1956, to make regulations prescribing types of hat or cap recommended as affording protection to motorists.

Mr. Nugent

It would require a great deal of extra work to analyse the annual figures for this purpose. We had better wait until we see the result of the sample inquiry that the Road Research Laboratory is making, to see whether the significance of the figures would justify the extra work.

Following is the information:

Mr. Moss

Why is "helmet" defined in the Road Traffic Act, 1956, as "any form of protective headgear "? Would not that include felt hats and caps for motorists, which might receive the support of the hon. Gentleman one day?

Mr. Nugent

I am not excluding them from my support. I was only explaining to the hon. Gentleman the law on the matter. I cannot explain why the 1956 Act was drafted in that way.

Mr. Strauss

Has the hon. Gentleman had any discussion with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, as was suggested recently at Question Time, about taking further action to induce, by education or exhortation, motor cyclists to wear helmets voluntarily and in greater quantity than at the present moment?

Mr. Nugent

I have not been able to have this discussion yet as the Society has a conference going on at the present time. I hope to be able to have the discussion in the near future.