HC Deb 22 April 1996 vol 276 cc12-3
11. Mr. French

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals he has to improve safety at roundabouts. [24726]

Mr. Norris

In line with the Government's policy of reducing all road traffic accidents, safety at roundabouts is kept under constant review.

Mr. French

Is my hon. Friend aware that, in recent years, many roundabouts have been decreased in diameter? Is he conversant with research that shows that, while that may increase the flow of traffic, it also increases the chances of vehicular collision? Will he seriously consider reviewing that policy?

Mr. Norris

Our research suggests that the number of collisions at roundabouts is declining in line with the reduction in collisions generally. I shall, of course, consider the research to which my hon. Friend has drawn attention, but I am satisfied from the evidence that I have seen so far that safety at roundabouts is being dealt with as part of an overall road traffic strategy and that no significant safety issues are involved.

Mr. Pike

Will the Minister consider the use of mini-roundabouts, which are over-used and often cause more safety problems than did the measures that previously existed at junctions?

Mr. Norris

The hon. Gentleman points to the importance of local authorities, which are responsible for such traffic schemes, bearing in mind the most appropriate way of dealing with traffic problems when they plan schemes. I suspect that, in many cases, he is right. The greatest enemy of common sense in such matters is the assumption that a particular method is a panacea, when it patently is not. An array of traffic calming and directing techniques is available. The hon. Gentleman is right—it is important that local authorities should seek the one that fits the circumstance, not a technique that replaces one problem with another.

Mr. Fabricant

Mini-roundabouts or major roundabouts, will my hon. Friend pay tribute to whoever invented the roundabout? Is he aware that many states in the United States are investing in roundabouts and have renamed them circulatories? Despite the odd name, does not that demonstrate that Britain still leads the way in many things?

Mr. Norris

No, I am not sure that it does. I can claim neither authorship of the roundabout nor the slightest insight into its lineage. I should not be surprised to find that Roman charioteers worked out how to circumnavigate Gates's corner, but in the absence of positive identification, I fear that I must resist my hon. Friend's blandishments.

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