HC Deb 21 May 2002 vol 386 cc152-3
8. Helen Jackson (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

What action his Department is taking to reduce road traffic speeds. [55534]

The Minister for Transport (Mr. John Spellar)

The measures being taken by the Government to reduce excessive and inappropriate speeds are contained in the road safety strategy, "Tomorrow's Roads Safer For Everyone", which was published in March 2000.

Helen Jackson

Does the Minister agree that proper enforcement of speed limits is not anti-motorist, as some people think, but pro-safety? Does he understand that, where digital cameras have been introduced and proper enforcement used, there has been a dramatic reduction in deaths and serious injuries? Will he therefore accelerate the programme—not of speed but of digital cameras—to include not only the A616 Stocksbridge bypass, which he knows is a particularly dangerous road, but other particularly dangerous roads in urban and rural areas?

Mr. Spellar

I thank my hon. Friend for that question and for the delegation that she brought to make representations to me about the Stocksbridge bypass. She rightly identifies the success with cameras. In terms of the pilot projects, on average, at camera sites, the number of people killed or seriously injured fell by 47 per cent. compared with the average over the previous three years. Twenty-six police force areas have now been accepted for the scheme, and, it is hoped, all who want to join will do so in the next 18 months. It is appropriate to stress that one of the key elements of the scheme is that, in order to ensure that reduced speed leads to reduced accidents, cameras are clearly visible, clearly painted and clearly signed. That has been widely recognised and appreciated by motorists across the country who understand the need for cameras but want to ensure that they are not out to catch motorists but to save lives.

Mr. John Randall (Uxbridge)

Does the Minister agree that one of the important factors with regard to speed limits is appropriate signage? Will he therefore undertake to introduce legislation that will enable repeater signs to be put up to make sure that motorists know what the speed limits are?

Mr. Spellar

As the hon. Gentleman knows, that is a slightly difficult issue in terms of whether having repeater signs in some areas and not in others leads to confusion for motorists. I am particularly concerned about roads where the speed limit has changed—for example, where a road that used to be subject to a 40 mph limit is now subject to a 30 mph limit, as happened, for example, on the Chester road in Birmingham. I am particularly anxious that that should be clearly signed, and, where there are cameras, that the prevailing speed limit should be clearly indicated. There are balanced arguments on the other issue that the hon. Gentleman raises, which we are examining at the moment.