HC Deb 03 June 1981 vol 5 c909
1. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he plans to make the use of dipped headlights compulsory in built-up areas.

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Norman Fowler)

No, Sir.

Mr. Knox

As there is evidence that dipped headlights are safer than sidelights in built-up areas, especially for pedestrians, will my right hon. Friend reconsider his decision?

Mr. Fowler

When road lighting is inadequate, motorists should use dipped headlights. As a matter of practice, the Government want to introduce the minimum of new restrictions and not the maximum. It is best to rely on motorists' common sense.

Mr. Carmichael

Have there been any results from the work of the Transport and Road Research Laboratory on the photoelectric control of dipped headlights? There have been many objections that in most built-up areas the standard dipped headlight is far too bright.

Mr. Fowler

I understand that no system has yet been developed that meets the difficulties that the hon. Gentleman has mentioned.

Mr. Sims

Does my right hon. Friend accept that even dipped headlights may dazzle, whether from oncoming or from following cars? Does he appreciate that that is especially dangerous in wet conditions? Is he aware that some of us think that a reduction in the use of headlights rather than more of it in well-lit areas would contribute to road safety?

Mr. Fowler

That is why I suggest that it is best to leave these decisions to motorists' common sense. A considerable study in the 1960s showed that there was no great difference in road safety in areas where dipped headlights were used and in those where they were not.