HC Deb 17 January 1968 vol 756 cc1757-8
5. Mr. Gardner

asked the Minister of Transport if she will make a statement about road accidents and casualties during the Christmas period.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. John Morris)

The provisional figure for the number of road accidents in Great Britain for the five days beginning on 22nd December is 3,096. The corresponding, figure for Christmas, 1966, was 4,239.

The provisional numbers of deaths and serious injuries over the Christmas period this year were 98 and 1,013, compared with 153 and 1,507 last year.

Mr. Gardner

Does not my hon. Friend agree that the figures which he has just announced vindicate the decision of the House in relation to the Road Safety Act? Will his Ministry give maximum publicity to the figures which he has quoted?

Mr. Morris

I am sure that due note will be taken of these figures, but it is still rather early fully to judge the contribution which the Act has made.

Mr. John Hall

Can the hon. Gentleman give the ratio of accidents to the volume of traffic at Christmas and corn-pare it with a corresponding figure for the previous year?

Mr. Morris

This is one of the important matters which we shall have to have before us before we can evaluate the effect of the Act. We shall have to have figures of the traffic flows which are as accurate as possible, and so far we do lot have them.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Is the hon. Gentlemen aware that sales of petrol over the Christmas period were down by 5 per cent. as compared with a year ago, so that there was very much less motor- ing? One would naturally expect a 5 per cent. fall in accidents with less traffic, although one welcomes the great fall.

Mr. Morris

That is why it is so important to have all these facts before coming to a final decision. At the same time, these are very significant falls.

Mr. Bagier

Would my hon. Friend remember when considering these figures that the volume of traffic was probably affected by the introduction of the Act?

Mr. Morris

The earlier figures which I announced when answering Questions last time I indicated that the figures we had up to 10 o'clock at night showed that there were no falls in traffic—indeed, there was an increase. If after that time there were falls in traffic, for which we do not yet have figures, and if after having drunk too much people were no longer driving, then that is something to be encouraged.

Mr. Bessell

Has there been any comparison of weather conditions this Christmas and last Christmas? I welcome this considerable improvement, but would not the hon. Gentleman agree that further steps are necessary to prevent the continuing high accident rate?

Mr. Morris

We do not yet have a full analysis of the weather conditions. All these are obviously matters to be considered. While the figures are encouraging, they are still too high.

Mr. Tinn

Would not my hon. Friend agree that the success indicated by these figures reflects great discredit on those pressure groups, those interested groups, who seem to put profits before road safety?

Sir Knox Cunningham

Can the hon. Gentleman say what steps his right hon. Friend is taking to prevent accidents arising out of the danger of the new automatic half-gate level crossings?

Mr. Morris

There is a later Question on this subject. As the hon. and learned Gentleman should know, my right hon. Friend has announced a full public inquiry into all these matters.