HC Deb 23 April 1990 vol 171 cc4-5
3. Mr. Andrew MacKay

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has any plans to revise the highway code; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins

Aspects of the highway code are dated and need improvement. I am considering at present how that may be done.

Mr. MacKay

When my right hon. Friend revises the highway code, will he carefully consider whether motorway driving could be improved if it is emphasised to drivers that they should drive in the inside lane and that the middle and outside lanes are purely overtaking lanes, and that rear fog lights are supposed to be on when there is fog and not at other times, when they cause great danger and pile-ups?

Mr. Atkins

My hon. Friend, with his usual percipience, has addressed the two problems that cause most concern. I join him in urging people to stop using fog lights wrongly. The points that he raised about other matters are being given considerable attention. I should be interested to hear from anyone who believes that aspects of the highway code are outdated. We shall endeavour to take such advice into consideration when we carry out the review.

Mr. Tony Banks

When the highway code is revised, will the Minister consider inserting a section that advises motorists of the things that they should not do inside their cars? There are many things, of course, but I was thinking specifically of the ludicrous grinning cats that are stuck to car side windows and the dice and football boots that hang down over rear-view mirrors and must obstruct a driver's view, thus making driving much more dangerous.

Mr. Corbyn

And car phones.

Mr. Banks

And car phones, as my hon. Friend says.

Mr. Atkins

I share with the hon. Gentleman an obsessive hatred of dingle-dangles in the back windows of cars as they are distracting and, more important, they are unsafe.

Mr. Higgins

May I applaud my hon. Friend's statement and suggest that in revising the highway code, he should clarify the position with regard to priority on roundabouts, making it clear that those already on roundabouts have priority over other traffic not on the roundabout even when it is approaching from the right of the car on the roundabout?

Mr. Atkins

My right hon. Friend is right to draw attention to that as it is one of many aspects that I believe to be outdated; and clearly we shall have to look at it closely.

Mr. Corbyn

When the Minister is revising the highway code, will he look into the serious problem of drivers with car phones who drive while using the phone, as that causes danger to other road users? It is dangerously distracting and causes accidents, yet the police do not seem keen on chasing and prosecuting such offenders. Will the Minister introduce regulations to prevent that dangerous practice?

Mr. Atkins

It is already an offence to drive a car while using the phone. It is a matter for the police to enforce. I take the opportunity provided by the hon Gentleman's supplementary question to remind people that it is wrong to use the phone while driving, particularly when devices can be fitted into cars so that the driver can have a conversation while keeping both hands on the wheel. It is an offence and I want it stopped, but it is up to the police to enforce the law.