HC Deb 07 June 1967 vol 747 cc1059-60
27. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Minister of Transport what estimates are available of the proportion of deaths and serious accidents to pillion passengers which could be averted by their wearing protective helmets; and if she will bring into effect regulations, under Section 41 of the Road Traffic Act, 1962, to make the wearing of helmets compulsory.

Mr. John Morris

If all pillion passengers wore safety helmets there might be 60 fewer killed and between 150 and 300 fewer seriously injured each year. But we prefer to use persuasion to wear safety helmets rather than attempt compulsion.

Mr. Roberts

Would the Minister not agree that whereas the great bulk of motor cyclists and pillion passengers are responsible people, there are a small number who have to be protected against themselves?

Mr. Morris

I am sure my hon. Friend is aware that there is a problem of enforcement. Over the years there has been substantial publicity to persuade people to wear these helmets. Less than 25 per cent. wore them a few years ago. Now more than 70 per cent. of drivers wear helmets. This kind of persuasion and publicity must go on.

Mr. Crawshaw

Would not the Minister, who apparently is not prepared to travel in a car without a safety belt— and rightly so—consider this problem again and see about protecting these people from themselves, because at their age they are not concerned about what damage they may do to themselves?

Mr. Morris

I am willing to look at any suggestion at all times, but I am sure that my hon. Friends are well aware of the problem of enforcement. What is wanted is publicity to persuade these people to ensure that they protect themselves, and the success of the campaign over a number of years has increased substantially the number of people who wear these safety helmets.