HC Deb 10 November 1976 vol 919 cc398-400
9. Mr. Adam Hunter

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what further plans he has to reduce the number of road accidents in Scotland which have resulted in fatalities and serious injury.

Mr. McElhone

My right hon. Friend will continue to take and support measures designed to reduce such road accidents. Fatal and serious injury casualties for 1975 were the lowest since 1965.

Mr. Hunter

Does not my hon. Friend agree that in the last few months the number of fatal and serious injury accidents in Scotland has been quite appalling, particularly at weekends? Many of these accidents happen in relatively quiet country roads where the traffic is not heavy. In any preventive measures he takes, will my hon. Friend accept the suggestion that warning notices or signs should be displayed more frequently in such roads to enable motorists to see that they should drive more carefully and with less speed?

Mr. McElhone

I am always in favour of care on the roads, but I must disagree with my hon. Friend when he talks about a serious increase in the number of fatal accidents. My information is that the welcome trend which I have just announced continued through the first six months of this year. If my hon. Friend has a peculiar problem in his area I will be happy to discuss it with him. The Department has a road safety unit which, in addition to carrying out accident studies on trunk roads, advises local authorities about accident prevention. I will discuss with my right hon. Friend and my noble Friend later this week the suggestion about setting up notices.

Mr. Henderson

Is the Minister aware that one of the most serious forms of accident is to children alighting from school buses? In recent months there have been some fatalities of this kind in my constituency. Will the Minister consider adopting the system of other countries in which school buses have flashing signs which prevent any traffic from moving when the bus has stopped? This not only prevents cars from overtaking school buses but it stops traffic from moving on the other side of the road. This would make a considerable contribution to road safety and would reassure many parents.

Mr. McElhone

Of course, I am prepared to look at any suggestions from any side of the House.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Can the Minister say whether many of these fatal accidents were related to drink problems? Have the Government made any estimate of the increase or decrease in the number of road deaths as a result of the greatly extended drinking hours provided for in the Licensing (Scotland) Bill?

Mr. McElhone

I cannot comment on the effects of the new licensing legislation because it has not yet come into effect. However, I share the hon. Member's concern about drinking and driving. The Government have accepted the recommendations in the Blennerhassett Report as a basis for new drink-and-drive regulations. These will be introduced as soon as possible.

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