HC Deb 20 January 1965 vol 705 cc187-8
24. Mr. Peter Walker

asked the Minister of Transport, whether he will discourage the marking of roads in three lanes.

Mr. Tom Fraser

I have at present no evidence which would justify departing generally from three-lane marking on roads of the appropriate width. Where visibility is restricted, or there is a particular hazard, two-lane markings are substituted for three. We are also experimenting with offset double white lines to give alternate stretches of two lanes in one direction and one lane in the other.

Mr. Walker

Would the Minister agree that a very large proportion of fatal accidents occur on stretches of road where there are three-lane markings? Can he provide statistics about the number of fatal accidents on particular stretches of road?

Mr. Fraser

It is a fact that the detailed study made by the Road Research Laboratory showed that the accident rate was not higher on those roads, but nonetheless the number of fatalities was higher. That is perfectly understandable Notwithstanding that, we have so many miles of three-lane carriageways in this country that we could not possibly reduce them to two-lane carriageways and still carry the traffic. Nor could we, in the short term, convert all the three-lane carriageways into dual carriageways with double two-lane carriageways. I think that is a desirable aim, but it is something that we shall not achieve overnight.

Mr. Manuel

Does my right hon Friend recognise that there is great concern and a growing volume of opinion against the continuation and the renewing of three-lane carriageways? Is not my right hon. Friend himself convinced, as he drives a car a great deal himself, that one feels much safer on a two-lane carriageway rather than a three-lane one, despite the extra width?

Mr. Fraser

In the past I have frequently complained about certain three- lane highways where I thought the accident rate was extremely high. In the next few years we shall convert a great many three-lane highways into dual carriageways with two lanes in each direction, but it would be wrong of me to hold out any hope that at a very early date we shall get rid of three-lane carriageways everywhere. The three-lane carriageways are normally wider than the two-lane ones and they carry very much more traffic. We could not justifiably limit the traffic to be carried on these roads.