HC Deb 06 May 1959 vol 605 cc394-6
46. Mr. Moss

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he has noted that the causes of deaths in motor vehicle accidents in 1955 were head injuries as to nearly 66 per cent. in the case of pedestrians, over 77 per cent. in the case of pedal cyclists, 80 per cent. in the case of riders or passengers of motor cycles, and over 52 per cent. in the case of riders or passengers of other vehicles; and what steps he will take, within his existing statutory powers, to encourage the wearing of crash helmets, the cushioning of cars, and the wearing of protective hats and caps.

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

I am aware of the head injury figures quoted by the hon. Member.

Proper protective helmets afford a good degree of protection from head injury to motor cyclists, and we take every opportunity to encourage their use. It would be premature to recommend other protective hats or caps, or cushioning of cars, until more is known about the degree of protection afforded.

Mr. Moss

Has the Joint Parliamentary Secretary seen cars with cushions? Has he ridden in cars which are cushioned? Do not they provide a method of preventing head injuries in road accidents? Has the hon. Gentleman seen a protective cap? Does he realise how important these would be for motorists in particular and perhaps for cyclists—not motor cyclists, but cyclists—in preventing head injuries? Will he say a word about safety belts?

Mr. Nugent

With regard to the safety felt hats, we are relying on the Road Research Laboratory to guide us, and its opinion is that the research work has not yet gone sufficiently far for us to be able to give any advice generally. With regard to the cushioning of dashboards, the Road Research Laboratory and the motor manufacturers are now proceeding with research work to see what design would be most beneficial. Until we have had the result of that work, once again I think that we are unable to give any general advice.

Sir G. Nicholson

In view of the very startling and tragic figures of head injuries to motor cyclists, why does my hon. Friend's Department still adhere to the principle of not making compulsory the wearing of crash helmets by motor cyclists? Surely a large number of very valuable young lives could be saved. Is my hon. Friend further aware that the arguments of his Department all along have been very unconvincing?

Mr. Nugent

No, Sir. I do not agree with my hon. Friend. The voluntary campaigns which we have instituted for the wearing of protective helmets have been very effective and more than 50 per cent. of motor-cyclists now wear them. We have made regulations establishing a minimum standard for these safety helmets. I think that our propaganda and our education has been entirely effective in getting them very generally worn.

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