HC Deb 28 July 1965 vol 717 cc450-1
17. Mr. Bowen

asked the Minister of Transport what is the statistical average of vehicle breakdowns expressed in vehicle-miles; to what extent this factor is considered in designing urban and rural motorways and all-purpose roads, respectively; and what account is taken of it in deciding whether an emergency hard shoulder is to be included.

Mr. Swingler

I apologise for the length of this Answer.

The rate of vehicle breakdown is not capable of precise calculation but is within the range of one for every 10,000 to 20,000 vehicle miles. This is taken into account in the design of motorways. Continuous hard shoulders are provided on all rural motorways. On urban motorways, where traffic speeds are lower hard shoulders will be provided where this is physically possible and not disproportionately costly.

Breakdowns are a less significant factor in the design of all-purpose roads, where drivers have in any case to allow for stationary vehicles, turning vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. On the more important all-purpose roads it is the policy to provide lay-bys at frequent intervals.

Mr. Farr

Will the hon. Gentleman also bear in mind the fact that with three-lane motorways there is the great advantage of being able to use the central reservation as an additional draw-in for vehicles in an emergency?

Mr. Swingler

The question of the use of the central reservation and its rôle is a matter which is under constant discussion. We are persistently being pressed to erect anti-dazzle and anti-crash screens on the central reservation. We give high priority to the carrying out of experiments into this important subject.

Mr. Bowen

Would not the Parliamentary Secretary agree that the suggestion put to him by the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) is fraught with danger, and should not the Ministry reconsider its whole attitude towards the three-lane motorways?

Mr. Swingler

That is another question. I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman is correct in that it is far more important for us to experiment to find the right answer to the question of the use of the central reservation as a means of preventing accidents and safeguarding motorists against dazzle.