HC Deb 21 May 1980 vol 985 cc495-6
17. Mr. Mawby

asked the Minister of Transport what reduction in the injury rate on Great Britain's roads occurred between 1970 and the latest available year.

Mr. Fowler

In 1970, 7,499 people were killed on the roads and 93,499 were seriously injured. In 1979, 6,327 people were killed and 80,274 were seriously injured. This was the lowest figure of those killed since 1958 and it is estimated that the number of casualties, per vehicle distance travelled, fell by 30 per cent. between 1970 and 1979.

Mr. Mawby

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the House will be very pleased with those figures and with the tremendous increase in safety? Does he not agree that the decline of 30 per cent. in the number of casualties can be ascribed mainly to the development of the motorway network? Will he acknowledge that motorways are our safest roads and that they have an accident rate that is nearly one tenth—[HON. MEMBERS: "Reading."]—certainly, I am reading.

Mr. Speaker

Order. As I have said before, it is foolish to confess in public. The hon. Gentleman may glance at his notes, but he should not admit it.

Mr. Mawby

I apologise Mr. Speaker. I was led astray. Is not my right hon. Friend aware that the accident rate on motorways is about one-tenth of that on urban roads?

Mr. Fowler

I am sure that my hon. Friend is right. There has been a reduction in the accident rate—which I am sure that the House will welcome—during the past decade as a result of better roads. However, that is only one factor. There has also been an improvement in training facilities and that has been of particular help to young people. It has made a major contribution to the reduction in the number of accidents.

Mr. Sheerman

Is the Minister aware that those figures could be improved substantially in a number of areas? Is the Minister further aware that we are still waiting for the Government to produce some hard-hitting proposals—that will require some expenditure—to reduce the number of motor cycle accidents? Is he further aware that the glow-worm campaign is supported by such national newspapers as the Sunday Mirror and by many other organisations? Will not that campaign help to prevent accidents to motor cyclists and pedestrian children?

Mr. Fowler

The glow-worm campaign is being organised by RoSPA and by the Sunday Mirror. We welcome the campaign and hope that it will be successful. I know that the hon. Gentleman has expressed concern during the past few months about motor cycle accidents. We shall shortly produce proposals on that subject. I hope that they will relieve the hon. Gentleman's concern. Far more motor cyclists must be trained before they go on the road for the first time.

Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

To what extent does drunken driving contribute to those figures? Does my right hon. Friend intend to introduce new measures to tighten up the restrictions on drunken driving?

Mr. Fowler

Yet, Sir. At present, about one in three of those drivers who are killed are over the limit. That underlines the importance of taking action over drunken driving. The Blennerhassett report—which we are now consulting—lays down the basis for action. Only one aspect is controversial, namely, the random test. The Government are not committed to introducing such tests. I would need a great deal of persuasion to change my mind on that point. I hope that hon. Members from all parties will agree that the other measures contained in the Blennerhassett report should be introduced.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

To what extent did the temporary speed restrictions, introduced as a result of fuel problems in 1974, affect the accident rate during the years of enforcement?

Mr. Fowler

In many ways, they hardly affected the accident rate.