§ 4.9 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD BOOTHBY
My Lords, perhaps I might be allowed to revert for one moment to the Highway Code, after a considerable number of interruptions. I feel it necessary to say that, to me, the production of a new Highway Code in this country at this moment partakes of the nature of a grizzly farce. It is not a Highway Code that we require in this country to-day. You can add 1,000 clauses, instead of 30, to the Highway Code: but it will not stop the carnage on the road until you take much more drastic measures than writing out orders and rules. You have got to get the lorries and the big heavy traffic off the 467 streets of the cities of this country, at any rate during the busy daylight hours. You have got to revolutionise, in my view, all the parking regulations; and, above all, you have got to bear in mind that cars are coming off the production lines of the motor car industry in this country, not every week but every day, far in excess of the capacity of our present roads to carry.
I want to submit, with all deference to Her Majesty's Government, that their present road programme is totally inadequate for the traffic the roads have to bear. I think that some definite statutory limitation will have to be put upon the number of cars that are placed annually upon the roads of this country. Whether that is done or whether it is not, there is no doubt whatever that an enormous expansion of road construction is necessary. The late Earl Lloyd-George proposed a great programme of road construction in 1929. It would have been good from an economic point of view, and we should have blessed it now if that had been carried out. Since that time, nobody has really tackled the problem of the roads of this country at all, or attempted to do so. No Government, neither a Labour Government nor a Conservative Government have ever really tackled it. As a result, considering the volume of traffic which they have to bear, the roads of this country are to-day more inadequate than the roads of any other civilised country in the world.
I feel very strongly about this matter, because I think that we salve our consciences by producing these endless rules, recommendations and exhortations. The noble Earl who introduced this Code this afternoon seemed to take some pride in the fact that another thirty-five exhortations have been added to the previous Highway Code. You are not going to do any good by exhortations, rules or codes. The only way to stop the increasing carnage on the roads of this country—and it is always a mystery to me why the public as a whole seem to be so indifferent to it, considering the amount of bloodshed that is involved every week of the year—is to limit the number of cars that are put on the roads, and to have a programme of road expansion at least twice the size of that which we have at the present time.
§ 4.14 p.m.
§ EARL HOWE
My Lords, with much of what has fallen from the noble Lord I think one might agree, but I am afraid that I could not agree with the bulk or what he said. However, I will leave that for the moment. I cannot help feeling that some of the noble Lord's remarks would have been better directed to the question of special roads, the next item on the Order Paper. With regard to this edition of The Highway Code, I am afraid I do not share the noble Lord's pessimistic view. I think one aspect of it is most valuable. It will provide a sort of code of the highway for foreigners coming over to this country. Many more foreigners are coming with their cars to this country now than ever came before, and unless you make the Highway Code very simple for them, it is quite possible that they will find it difficult to understand. For years, Sweden has produced an illustrated volume of their Highway Code. Naturally, I do not know any Swedish, but I can follow the code they produce very easily by the little pictures it contains. In this Highway Code, I think the noble Lord was quite right when he said that its illustrations were valuable.
The noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, talked about the double white lines. I rather share his views in some respects. The double white lines are being used on many roads of this country which are only twin-track roads. If anybody wants instances, they are to be found in Kent, but of course they are found in other places as well. Where there is a double white line marking on a twin-track road—that is, one line in each direction—it requires only a cyclist to be on the road to make it impossible for anybody who observes the law to pass. The twin-track idea is an extremely good one and works very well on the Continent. I hope that the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation will not lay down the double white line necessarily on every 20 ft. road. If that is done it merely increases the appalling congestion which takes place, and will not make any contribution to road safety.
The noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, talked about the clearways and advocated them in London. I wonder whether the noble Lord has read page 9 of the Report of the Commissioner of The Metropolitan Police for the year 1958. 469 I believe it is available in the Printed Paper Office to-day. This is what it says:The insufficiency of off-street parking facilities is embarrassing to the police as well as the public; on the other hand, if these facilities were to be liberally provided, there is the fear that the kerb space so relieved would merely attract additional cars into Central London.This is, I think, the valuable point:The most practical approach to this problem of reducing the number of cars parked in the streets and so facilitating the flow of traffic appears to be the institution of fully controlled zones in Central London…I hope that the importance of that fact will not be lost upon your Lordships. At present, 240,000 come up to London in the morning and go away again in the evening, and I have said for a long time that if only one could reduce those numbers coming into the central area it would make the traffic conditions much better.
The Highway Code does one thing which I think is invaluable—it draws attention to mirrors and signals. I am very worried myself as to what may happen when the London-Birmingham and other big motorways really get going. Any of your Lordships who has watched people drive will have noticed the rather small and ancient car which wobbles along and goes from one lane to another, obviously with the driver not looking in his mirror. I cannot help thinking that when these big motorways get going they ought to be staffed with pretty good police patrols mounted on motorcycles which can, if they want, overtake any ordinary vehicle on the road—but not with any idea of securing convictions. My idea is that if they were able to range up alongside some of these people, often week-enders without much experience and with cars bought on the hire purchase, and give them a little wholesome advice, those people would probably never make the same mistakes again. On the other hand, if the police go out for convictions of course they can get them, but I do not think that this is the cure. What many of the drivers on our motorways, and on the ordinary roads as well, require more than anything else is wholesome advice on the way they are driving.
On cages 20 and 21 of The Highway Code there are some lovely illustrations about signs and signals. I wonder 470 whether this insert was really necessary. Most cars have either trafficators or winkers, and their meaning is obvious. I do not believe that telling a lot of sometimes very inexperienced drivers to take their hands off the wheel—for example, the man who wants to turn left has to take his right hand off the wheel and put it over his left shoulder—is at all practical. I should like to submit to the noble Earl who introduced The Highway Code that before the Minister goes into a larger production of it these particular pages might be deleted. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, who said that he did not think that they would make much contribution to road safety. The central thing in my mind is that if you want to increase safety on the roads you have somehow to bring it about—insist, if you like—on drivers looking in their mirrors, which they must all carry whether they are heavy vehicles or not.
I would mention one point with regard to heavy vehicles. I was surprised to hear the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, launch out into a hot criticism of the heavy vehicle drivers.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
My Lords, will the noble Earl allow me to intervene? I do not think he is being fair in saying I launched an attack on heavy vehicle drivers. I said I thought that the Highway Code ought to lay down definitely the space that it is advisable to leave between two heavy vehicles. If I am accused of attacking the heavy vehicle driver, I would point out that I said that the car driver was no better and no worse than he was.
§ EARL HOWE
I think the noble Lord anticipated what I was going to say. I accept his correction. The point is that the greatest gentlemen on the roads to-day are heavy vehicle drivers. It is true that there are exceptions who rather, to my mind, prove the rule. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, that if they can be so instructed by their firms or union to allow ample space between their vehicles and not to drive close up as the noble Lord described, that will be a good thing; I think he is quite right there. Whether that is best tackled through the union or by means of the Highway Code I do not know.
471 I do not want to weary your Lordships and take up time any longer. I merely want to pay a humble tribute to the Minister of Transport. He has been a little criticised by the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, this afternoon.
§ EARL HOWE
The noble Lord, Lord Boothby, thinks he is quite right over that, but I can assure the noble Lord that the present Minister of Transport, with possibly all the defects outlined by the Estimates Committee and Heaven knows what else has succeeded in doing more than any of his predecessors. Does Lord Boothby, I wonder, ever go to the West Country. If he does, let him go and sample the roads of Devon and Cornwall. I have had the opportunity of going there many times and anything like those roads it is impossible to describe. I actually talked to the Minister about it, and he said, "What do you think can be done?" I said, "I do not know what can be done. I think it requires a complete new road system", but the cost of that is simply not practical politics.
§ LORD BOOTHBY
Perhaps the noble Earl will allow me to say this: that all Ministers of Transport for the last thirty years have been deplorable.
§ 4.24 p.m.
My Lords, I would agree with the noble Earl who has just resumed his seat, particularly on the subject of police motor-cycle patrols. I think it may be straying a little outside the terms of what we are discussing at the moment, but during the course of the afternoon it will certainly be relevant, even if it is not at this moment. A week or two ago I drove in the day-time from Fishguard Harbour to North Foreland, a distance of 360 miles, the full width of this country. It took me some hours. During that time I saw some perfectly dreadful instances of driving of different sorts, as your Lordships would have agreed if you had been 472 with me. In practically no case was it a question of excessive speed—rather the reverse; it was a question of parking on the inside of bends, drivers driving at a steady 25 miles an hour, five or six feet out from the side of the road. All these things could be greatly helped by a well-trained team of motor-cycle police, well-trained men—not too young I suggest—who could wave the driver into the side and tell him what he was doing wrong. I suspect that most drivers would take quite kindly to that sort of advice. There would be no need to proceed against such a driver unless he had done something dangerous, but I think a little advice to some drivers would be a great help.
I remember being in France at the time when the centre white lines and broken lines came in. I was driving on one of the big roads and I went outside one of the lines. As I got over the top of the road two of the French gardes mobiles, men in black uniform and steel helmets, were on me like tigers, got me into the side and spoke in no uncertain terms. They pointed out that they would be completely within their rights in making me follow twenty-five miles to the local commissariat of police to be fined £20 on the spot. You can imagine the effect on my driving for the rest of the day—I proceeded with the utmost caution. I believe that something of that sort would have more effect than what the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, described as the 94 exhortations.
If those of your Lordships who have been in the United States have had the appalling misfortune to drive to Long Island on a Saturday or Sunday evening, or back into New York, you will have seen traffic out of all proportion to any-anything on the Great West Road, some vehicles doing exactly 40 miles an hour and some 50 miles an hour, according to the law. If you break that law you very quickly hear a siren behind you. There again, you will be treated very firmly indeed—and in my view quite rightly. Other countries have tackled this matter in that way, and I personally believe that there is a great deal to be said for such a system as the noble Earl, Lord Howe, with his great experience of this matter, has advocated.
Before I resume my seat may I ask the noble Earl who is to reply if he can 473 take note of one point which has perhaps been mentioned in your Lordships' House before? If it has, I apologise; I have never heard it. I should like to ask him whether, when a person is taking his examination for the driving licence, it would ever occur to him to light a cigarette or to have a cigarette in his hand. I am quite sure that it would not. It is quite clearly understood that the driver should have the full use of both hands in driving. I think that any examiner would insist on that. And yet once the driver has obtained his licence he will certainly smoke when he is driving, and it is not against the law. It has never even been suggested, so far as I know, that he should not do so. Yet he has not the full use of his hands; and should an accident occur, the chances of fire are enormously increased.
If your Lordships will bear with me, I will give one personal experience of that aspect. Some years ago one of my daughters was driving to a dance with three other young people. They stopped to buy cigarettes, but could not do so because it was too late in the evening. A little later the car was overturned in an accident. She was pulled out unconscious, with all her clothes soaked in petrol. Had she succeeded in buying the cigarettes she would certainly not be alive to-day. That is an extreme case; nevertheless, there must be many cases of fire after accident, due to the occupants of the car, either the passengers or the driver, smoking. Quite apart from the question of fire danger, there is the question of the driver not having 100 per cent. use of both hands. If this matter has been raised before, I apologise to the House and to the noble Earl."
§ 4.31 p.m.
My Lords, I should like to add my support in regard to this new Highway Code which I personally think is a great thing. I stress that in spite of what has been said by certain noble Lords. On the whole, I think it is an excellent document, although possibly there are one or two small alterations which can be dealt with on a later occasion.
In offering my support, I should like to take this opportunity to express my disgust at the recent attacks that have been made in certain quarters on the 474 Minister of Transport. I would say that the present Minister of Transport is the first to hold that position for many years who has made a really substantial contribution to our road system. The suggestion that no proper plans have been made for our roads is completely untenable. I am not without some knowledge of the proposed road systems and the work that has already been carried out on these roads, and I consider that the Minister, and his Department have carried out a first-class job of work in very difficult circumstances.
It has also been hinted in some quarters that insufficient research and experiments have been carried out on road-making in this country. On the contrary, I would say that the road contractors of this country have full information as to how to construct roads, and I feel sure that they will produce roads which will prove to be second to none anywhere in the world. When, some years ago, we had a Government of a different complexion from the present one, a grandiose plan for new roads was introduced in a Bill which was passed through both Houses of Parliament, but not a yard of new road was built under that Act. It is the Conservative Government that has produced and are producing the new roads.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
Would the noble Lord allow me to intervene? I did not think this was going to be a Party political discussion, but he will realise from his own experience, will he not, that every Minister of Transport can build only as many roads as the Chancellor of the Exchequer will allow? The noble Lord will bear that in mind.
My Lords, all I can say is that that particular Government must have had a bad Chancellor of the Exchequer. At least I say that now the country has a Minister who has held the job long enough to make proper plans for our roads and to see them actually being carried out. Had he waited for all the i's to be dotted and all the t's to be crossed before proceeding with his roads, we should be back where we were three or four years ago. The inadequacy of our road system must be laid at the door of many Governments, but certainly not at the door of the present Government.
§ LORD GISBOROUGH
My Lords, in view of the enormous coverage by television and the cinemas, and of the value of advertising, is it not possible for these media to be used to a much greater extent in publicising the Highway Code? In this way people could be shown, by pictures, examples of good driving, bad driving, and particular points, such as turning to the right without looking, and all the various things that people do most. I am convinced that the cost of such advertising would be negligible in relation to the effect it would have.
§ 4.35 p.m.
My Lords, I am going to step most carefully in regard to the question of the Highway Code. I have been over thirty years in your Lordships' House, and although in that time I have seen debates move themselves from strict Order, I do not think I have ever heard a debate diverge so much from the subject matter as has happened today.
I welcome this Highway Code in many ways, and I am going to make comments on only two paragraphs, paragraphs 31 and 39, which are concerned with the use of mirrors and with turning right. I am sure that all your Lordships have at one time or another heard somebody say, "I was all right; I put out my hand." If one looks at paragraphs 31 and 39, the first directs you to look into your mirror and to take care before you signal what you are going to do. I submit to your Lordships that it is not put nearly strongly enough that you have no right to turn if you are going to inconvenience other people: you give an indication, but you stay put until it is clear to turn. There seems to be some sort of perverse or obstinate attitude in the Department, because the noble Earl, Lord Gosford, said that the Department took notice of seventy bodies and what they had to say. I know for a fact that many organisations have for years been saying that the proper direction for right-hand turning has never been put in a strong enough fashion in the Highway Code.
The remarkable thing is that in 1954 the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation issued a pamphlet Sense and Safety. At page 6 of that pamphlet they give the two main causes of accidents to drivers. The figures there are: first, crossing road junctions, 8,561; and then, turning right without care, 8,405. Your 476 Lordships will see that turning right came a very close second. If one looks at page 53, at the general summary of road accidents issued in 1954, one sees that the total number of accidents again caused through turning right without due care was 14,660, and that the second highest number was 10,700-odd, for accidents concerning the crossing of road junctions.
Curiously enough, in 1957 we get the same sort of picture. In this case, at page 35, at the top of the list of accidents are the figures of vehicles turning right without due care, with a total of 18,600. This time the second top figure is crossing road junctions without care, for which the figure is 18,500. I do not know whether the figures for 1958 have been published, but there are copies available to authorities. At page 14 you will find that the number of accidents caused through turning right without due care numbered 12,467; and a close second, as usual, came the figure for crossing road junctions without due care, 11,705. Why will not the Ministry put into the Highway Code much stronger language about turning right? Why will they allow everybody to proceed on the understanding that if he puts out his hand he can turn? Before I came into the Chamber I spoke to my noble friend and asked if he would answer this question. In all the publicity that goes out, I suggest that there should be laid great emphasis on one's duty before one turns.
There is one more thing—namely, distribution of the Code. The noble Earl who is going to answer for Her Majesty's Government said something about not being able to give the Highway Code to every new licence holder, as it takes three years before you get one. I suggest that there is a very simple method of giving a copy to each home—namely, to put out one copy with each registration of a vehicle at the beginning of the year. It is not just a question of car drivers; copies should go also to cyclists, pedestrians and everybody else.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
My Lords, would not the noble Lord agree that the Post Office might deliver one to every house?
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, I shall follow the excellent example of my noble friend who has just sat down and 477 speak on The Highway Code, and not develop any of the irrelevant topics so eloquently dealt with by the noble Lord, Lord Boothby.
§ LORD CONESFORD
The sole point that I would make is that it is right to get the drafting, even of such a document as The Highway Code, as good as it can be made. On the whole, I think the Minister has succeeded and he has made it a better Code than many we have seen in the past. At the beginning of this month I went through the draft Code, not realising that he intended to seek approval for it quite so soon, and I sent in about a dozen suggestions; not for altering the meaning but, as I thought, for improving the draftsmanship. I have received a characteristically polite and sensible letter from the Minister in reply, and he says, as I now know, correctly, that I am too late as regards that part of the document which we are expressly asked to approve as the Highway Code, since he had already sought the approval of Parliament for it. He has promised that my points will be considered on a future occasion, and with that I am content.
I also made a few proposals for those pages which are outside the parts we are asked to approve and with some of them perhaps he can deal. I only wish to draw attention to one matter which is in the Code itself, and with which he thinks he cannot deal, but perhaps my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor may be able to convince him that he can. If noble Lords will turn to pages 20 and 21 they will find on the left-hand of page 20 "Drivers and Riders Signals to Other Road Users," and on page 21, "Drivers and Riders Signals to Police Officers Controlling Traffic." Correct English and, indeed, literacy require that an apostrophe should appear after the final "s" in "Drivers" and "Riders" in the heading on both pages. I do not believe that the insertion of these four apostrophes and the consequential changes in the Table of Contents would really be altering the Code in a way likely to cause disapproval in either House. If the Lord Chancellor or the Law Officers advise that even this slight change cannot be made in order to make the Code literate, I have nothing else to say and we shall have to wait another five years 478 for literacy. But I hope my noble and learned friend will say that the Code can be made more literate by the insertion of the necessary apostrophes after the letter "s".
§ 4.43 p.m.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
My Lords, like some of the noble Lords who have spoken immediately before me, I shall confine myself to the subject matter in hand. Your Lordships have already had a debate recently on the subject of road accidents, in which most of the views expressed to-day which were not on the Highway Code itself have already had a good airing.
The noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, is, as we all know, a real expert on this subject, and I must say I tremble a little in front of him because I am, compared to him, only a new boy. I will not cross swords with him for that reason, but will try to give answers to one or two of the detailed points which he made. First of all, I think he mentioned that pedestrians should be brought under some rather greater control than exhortations about traffic lights. That is not an easy matter, because if you tell pedestrians that they can cross at the green light, unless you are going to have a break at every traffic light—a crossing where pedestrians can cross and vehicles cannot move at all—then it is not possible and too dangerous to bring that in as a definite regulation I think the noble Lord will agree that if it is to be brought in, it will have to be a gradual process. Even then I doubt whether it would in the end be justified. There would be many crossings where traffic would be held up where there are not normally a great deal of pedestrians.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
My Lords, I referred to streets with rather heavy traffic of both pedestrians and vehicles.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
Where crossings are heavily trafficked, there are inclined to be traffic signals for pedestrians themselves. Another point I think the noble Lord made was on the question of space between vehicles. He thought it should be more definite. Instead of the Code saying merely that a proper space should be allowed by the drivers, there ought to be something a 479 little more specific. I think the noble Lord knows that the police did suggest that there should be some sort of formula on the lines of one yard for each mile per hour of speed: I am talking of vehicles that do not intend to pass. On the other hand, it was thought that the police formula was not suspectible to easy calculation; and I think that if a driver is going to start calculating on the basis, say, of thirty miles an hour, how many feet to the mile—three cricket pitches?—by the time he has done this he will probably have missed the pedestrian walking off the pavement, and there is another accident.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
The Army do it in convoy, but of course they have all Army drivers trained in convoy work. It requires training to keep this distance: but can you submit the ordinary driver to a point on the horizon and say that he must always keep that distance between him and the vehicle in front? No, I think it is rather difficult. The Code says that drivers should keep a reasonable distance, and I think we shall have to leave it to the common sense of drivers to keep a distance commensurate with the speed at which they are going.
The noble Lord opposite also mentioned paragraphs 34 and 81, about passing on the left in the case of slow-moving traffic, and not passing on the left in the case of motorways. I am sure the noble Lord would agree with me that you cannot really compare the two things. It definitely slates in rule 34 (2) thatin slow-moving congested traffic when vehicles in the lane on the right moving more slowly than you arepassing on the left is permitted. This must apply, for instance, in London streets where you find one lane going faster than the other, where a blockage is caused perhaps by someone wanting to turn right. You cannot prevent people on the inside from continuing in a straight line; whereas on the motorway the conditions are completely different, and I think it is essential with fast-moving traffic that the drivers should know that it is not very likely that anybody will be passing them on their inside.
480 My noble friend Lord Howe and the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, mentioned the subject of double white lines. I think that Lord Lucas of Chilworth would like to make the double white lines completely solid and, as I understood it, not have a dotted line at all. The present system has worked in other countries for a long time. It has been successful abroad, and I would say that we ought to give our own drivers more time to get used to something which is brand new, in view of the fact that it is a success abroad. The noble Lord stated that the dotted line was an invitation to pass. I think that any driver who does pass the vehicle in front because he sees a dotted line, without taking due care—which is what the Highway Code calls for—ought to have his head examined. Admittedly, many drivers do need to have their head examined, but we cannot make rules down to the level of the lowest in mentality and outlook, otherwise there would be a great many more than ninety-four rules.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
My Lords, I can assure the noble Earl that care will be taken not to lay double white lines on roads which are too narrow to permit it. But I think that to lay down a definite width as to whether they shall, or shall not, be used might cause difficulties. However, I can assure the noble Earl that they will not be placed on roads which are too narrow to take them.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
My Lords, I have no doubt that if the noble Earl would bring cases to the attention of my right honourable friend he would certainly look into them.
My Lords, will the noble Earl say what the Department's view is of the suitable width—what is right or wrong? He has said they would not be put on roads that are too narrow. Will he please say categorically what is "too narrow" in feet?
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
My Lords, I have already said we cannot have a demarcation line because it might produce difficulties, but I will certainly look into the matter and let the noble Lord know whether it is possible to lay down some definite width.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
My Lords, I thank the noble Earl. My noble friend Lord Howe mentioned police patrols. I can assure the noble Earl that the police throughout the country have already gone into this matter and are going to produce patrols to do much of what the noble Earl suggested that they should do. I cannot give him the exact instructions which they will receive, because they have not yet been fully decided, but the question is very much in the minds of the police authorities. I think that that also answers the question of the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham.
As to smoking, that, of course, is a matter of opinion. The noble Lord produced an argument about the case of cigarettes which might be a great cause of fire in the event of an accident; maybe. Furthermore undoubtedly if one smokes in a car one ought to light one's cigarette or pipe when one is stationary before one starts up. But this is a matter of opinion, as I say, and I think it will take quite a change of the present opinion among drivers before anything as drastic as a rule on that matter is brought in.
My Lords, I asked specifically whether the noble Earl thought that anyone when being tested for a licence would be at all likely to smoke or whether the examiner would allow him to while being examined. If not, there was no indication of what examiners considered safe or unsafe. That is what I asked him.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
My Lords, I have never taken an ordinary driving examination; although I did take the advanced test yesterday and passed, and I admit I did not smoke.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
Driving. The noble Lord, Lord Waleran, asked about rules 31 and 39. He mentioned this matter to me before I came into the Chamber and I admit I agreed in principle that the whole point should be that anything important should be high-lighted. I have since looked at the two rules he has mentioned and it seems to me that if we emphasise everything we get the position rather like that in the war. Everything was "top secret" in the end; if it was not "top secret" it never got anywhere. If we emphasise everything right the way through, then emphasis loses its force. I have looked at these rules again—as the noble Lord admitted, there is no question of altering them now—and I am not all that much in agreement with him, because if one reads them properly (and, after all, if one bothers to read this document one should read it properly) they are pretty clear. No. 39, for instance, says:Well before you turn right at a junction, take full account of the position and movement of following traffic. When safe to do so, signal your intention…I suppose that that could be underlined. However, what I will do is take the noble Lord's suggestion up so that when we are giving publicity in the future, publicity for that particular point should be included.
My Lords, I am sure the noble Earl would agree with this. As this cause of accidents probably heads the bill, according to his own Department's figures, it would be wise to give it prominence and priority. I have quoted the figures to him. He can look them up himself.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
My Lords, I am very glad to have heard the extremely welcoming remarks which most of your Lordships have made of the new Highway Code, and even more heartened by the defence of the present Minister of Transport which has come from all sides. Roads take a long time to build, and so when they are in the pipeline the fact that they are coming along is not always appreciated. But I think that any of 483 your Lordships who have driven up north will agree that great work is being done.
Safety on the roads is an ever present problem. The figures of accidents are horrible. But much—in fact all—the blame must go to the individual road user. And this is at least one step. He will have a document which is attractive and which we hope he will be attracted to; and with its clear setting, both in pictures and in words, of what is expected of him, we hope we shall get a code of road manners among road users which will reduce this toll.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.