HC Deb 30 July 1975 vol 896 cc1799-800
7. Mr. Alexander Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what immediate and long-term steps he is taking designed to reduce the number of road accidents in Scotland; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. William Ross

In 1974, there were fewer road casualties in Scotland than in any year since 1963, and provisional figures for the first five months of 1975 suggest that this trend is continuing. Scotland benefits from general road safety measures in force throughout Great Britain. Within Scotland, new and improved roads help to reduce accidents, and the Road Safety Advisory Unit of the Scottish Development Department continues to investigate and advise. The new and more broadly based regional police and local authorities will develop road safety training and education work.

Mr. Wilson

I am disappointed with that reply. In view of the feelings of my constituents, is it not about time that the road from Hamilton through Clyde-side was straightened and widened in order to avoid heavy lorries passing through my constituency? My constituents are scared of them. In view of the 22 deaths on the A74, will my right hon. Friend look into the question of the serious difficulties created by cars and lorries moving from motorway conditions on to dual carriageway roads, with the difference in speed limits and conditions which obtain? Will my right hon. Friend plaster that road with signs? Will he congratulate the police on their latest efforts in convening special courts in Lanark to convict motorists and lorry drivers? In one instance a motorist was driving at 106 mph on the A74. Will he do something about the A74 in terms of road signs?

Mr. Ross

As I have explained, that is precisely what we are doing on the A74. We want to impress on people that they are on an A road and not a motorway. The question of access is being examined. We have asked the agent authorities to make proposals to improve access and and to cut down the number of access roads. I note what my hon. Friend said about the police, and I am glad that he appreciates what has been done. There was considerable publicity about this road and about what was likely to happen in Lanarkshire in relation to the Glasgow Fair weekend, but there were no fatal accidents on that Lanarkshire road in the heaviest of the weekends. I take my hon. Friend's point about roads which lead into motorway sections, but there is always a problem there. When a new motorway is created there is a new pattern of feed-in of heavy lorries and industrial traffic, and this places a further burden on local authorities. I understand that they are looking at these points, however.

Mr. Corrie

Is the Secretary of State aware of the problems of the road between Stranraer and Gretna, caused by juggernauts coming over from Northern Ireland? Many of the boys driving these wagons are not old enough to hold a heavy goods licence. They stop their vehicles and swap for more experienced drivers when they get near Dumfries. Many accidents are caused by these inexperienced drivers. Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake more rigorous inspection of these drivers at the port, to make sure that they are experienced, and can handle these wagons?

Mr. Ross

A number of hon. Members from the Galloway area have written to me about this point, and we are looking into it.