HC Deb 09 February 1966 vol 724 cc379-81
3. Mr. Rhodes

asked the Minister of Transport what proposals she has to reduce the accident rate on the roads; and whether she will make a statement.

Mrs. Castle

The increasing number of road casualties causes me grave concern. We have already laid the Road Safety Bill before the House and I shall continue to tackle the problem energetically and constructively.

Mr. Rhodes

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that, since 20 people are killed every day on the roads and nearly 1,000 are injured, any action she may take to keep irresponsible drunkards off the roads will be widely appreciated by pedestrians and motorists alike?

Mrs. Castle

Yes, and that is why we have introduced the Road Safety Bill and we shall be discussing the problem of drink and driving very exhaustively when the Bill is before the House tomorrow.

Mr. Webster

Would it not be more apposite to have, rather than a limited Bill simply on drink and driving and commercial vehicles, a completely comprehensive Bill taking in all the points which have been raised and which are of great concern to the whole House?

Mrs. Castle

No, I do not agree. I think that these are two urgent matters on which the House agrees that action should not be delayed. Tackling the problem of heavy lorries and the problem of drink and driving is an obvious way in which we can make progress, and I hope that the House will agree to do so.

Captain W. Elliot

Would not the right hon. Lady agree that the best way to reduce accidents is to improve the roads? In that context, is it not deplorable that the Government have yet again cut back the road programme?

Mr. Speaker

Order. There is a Question on the Order Paper about that.

15. Mr. Geoffrey Wilson

asked the Minister of Transport whether she will make a statement on the Christmas figures of road accidents analysing the causes and indicating also the extent to which factors other than the conduct of drivers contributed to such accidents.

Mr. John Morris

No special analysis has been made of last year's Christmas road accidents. The casualty figures for Christmas and the whole of December will be published later this month.

Mr. Wilson

Ought there not to be an analysis? Does not the hon. Gentleman appreciate that if inflated figures of accidents are published at Christmas the general assumption by the public will be that it is due to drink during the Christmas festivities? In fact many of the accidents may be due to icy roads, fog, defective vehicles, or even bad roads. To take remedies, should not we know which is which?

Mr. Morris

Christmas accidents have been analysed by the Road Research Laboratory three times in the last eight years. These suggested factors, except drivers' conduct, were the same as at any other time. The results of investigations in the past point to the consumption of alcohol as an important factor in causing road accidents during Christmas. Weather is certainly another very important factor.

20. Mr. Webster

asked the Minister of Transport whether she will issue an analysis of road accidents with relation to the hours of day at which they occur.

Mr. John Morris

An analysis of casualties by hour of day is given in Table 21 of the Ministry's publication "Road Accidents 1964". A copy is available in the Library.

Mr. Webster

Do not the tragic figures of accidents involving pedestrians between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. show the great necessity of proper traffic engineering and the separation of vehicles from pedestrians? Do they not underline again the need for a proper and comprehensive Road Safety Bill?

Mr. Morris

I appreciate the hon. Member's remarks, but he must appreciate that the worst hour of all for these casualties is between 11 p.m. and midnight on Saturdays when fatal and serious accidents average twice as many as in the next worst hours.