HL Deb 20 January 1982 vol 426 cc605-6

2.43 p.m.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps directed to road safety are proposed in relation to the use of CB radio in cars while travelling on highways.

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, the Government's prime concern is that drivers with citizens' band radio equipment in their vehicles should not let it interfere with their concentration while at the wheel. The voluntary code of practice issued by the Government warns drivers against using their equipment in such a way as to impair their ability to drive safely, and I am glad to take the opportunity of re—emphasing this advice today.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for that Answer. Would he be surprised to learn that motorists have been seen using a hand—microphone, driving with one hand, even on motorways, and would he not agree that that is a very dangerous practice? I am sure the noble Earl would agree that it is desirable to avoid offences rather than have to take action. Are any conditions to this effect included in the CB licence, and could arrangements be made in agreement with retailers for printed advice on this and other relevant matters to be given when these sets are sold?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I will indeed take note of what the noble Lord has said. We would, of course, advise most strongly against operators making calls while on the move. However, as the noble Lord is aware, it is really too early to predict how far citizens' band radio is likely to be used by drivers, and we will certainly keep a close watch on the situation.

Lord Gisborough

My Lords, would the noble Earl agree that on the same reasoning it is highly dangerous for drivers to smoke because it is extremely difficult to smoke without taking one hand off the wheel, in order to light the cigarette? Could smoking be banned as well?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I should not like to enter into a debate with my noble friend on this subject. I have also seen recently shaving done at the wheel, as well as reading newspapers at the wheel.

Lord Whaddon

My Lords, would the noble Earl bear in mind the experience of private pilots in using this sort of equipment for many years, where the presence of a transmit button actually on the controls is very common and gives no trouble?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I know that those with experience, and particularly emergency drivers too, would agree with the noble Lord.