HC Deb 01 July 1964 vol 697 cc1322-3
10. Mr. Brockway

asked the Minister of Transport what plans he has in order to remove the danger caused by three-lane traffic on a single road used by vehicles in both directions.

Mr. Galbraith

We do not accept that three-lane roads are inherently dangerous—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—but any road may be dangerous if it is overloaded beyond its design capacity. Those three-lane roads which are seriously overloaded are being improved to dual carriageways as quickly as possible within the limits of the funds available and competing claims of other improvements. We are also pressing ahead with trials of offset double white lines to give alternately two traffic lanes in one direction and one in the other.

Mr. Brockway

Does not the reception given to the hon. Gentleman's Answer from hon. Members on both sides of the House show that the Ministry of Transport is completely out of touch with the minds of motorists on this matter? May I ask whether he will look particularly at the section of the A.4 in the green belt, which is necessarily dimly lighted and across which shadows sweep, between London Airport and Slough, and realise the dangers that there are in that section of the road?

Mr. Galbraith

I am quite willing to look at the section of road to which the hon. Gentleman refers, but I must say that he and his hon. Friends and a great many motorists are wrong in their belief that three-lane roads are inherently dangerous. The Road Research Laboratory recently carried out a study which revealed that the number of accidents is not unduly high and that only 2½ per cent. of the accidents involved vehicles overtaking and travelling in opposite directions.

Mr. Strauss

Is the Minister aware that sometimes his Ministry builds new roads for three lines of traffic and then, a few years later, decides that a mistake has been made and widens the road, at great expense, into a double roadway? Is he aware that the Gatwick by-pass is an example and that it is the inability of the Government to estimate the amount of traffic which will use the roads that they build which in the end causes not only accidents but a great waste of money?

Mr. Galbraith

The right hon. Gentleman is wrongly informed. We have only 5½ miles of trunk road to be built over the next four years with a capacity for three lines of traffic.