HL Deb 28 March 1988 vol 495 cc442-4

2.54 p.m.

Baroness Macleod of Borve asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make it compulsory for all motor-cycles to be fitted with rearview mirrors.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, we have no plans to make mirrors compulsory. We take the view that motor-cyclists should decide for themselves whether they wish to fit mirrors.

Baroness Macleod of Borve

My Lords, I am tempted to ask why not, but I shall ask a further question. Is my noble friend aware that motorcyclists driving low cc motor-cycles when turning cross in front of other traffic, thereby causing accidents?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, that may be the case. Whether the situation would be improved by fitting a mirror is the real question. We believe that reliance on mirrors by motor-cyclists is inadvisable. Rule 46 of the Highway Code advises a motor-cyclist to look over his shoulder before changing direction.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, on what consultations is that answer based? Surely there is a danger, especially with the amount of weaving that goes on, in motor-cyclists looking over their shoulders while travelling?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I am not certain that consultation has taken place. This is the first time that I have been aware of any feeling that mirrors should be compulsorily on motor-cycles. Mirrors are normally fitted to handlebars, which is the same as fitting a mirror to the steering well of a motor car; every time one changes direction, the mirror changes its attitude and is therefore of limited value.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, why does my noble friend think it safer for the motor-cyclist to turn his head to look over his shoulder than to glance into a mirror?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, for the reason that I have just given; normally the mirror would be fitted to the handlebar. When the motor-cyclist changes direction, the attitude of the mirror changes. That is not something I think; it is something which has been commonly recognised for many years.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, before the motor-cyclist changes direction, he should look in the mirror to see whether it is safe.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, he could of course if he had a mirror, and most motor-cyclists do. We believe that they should not rely on a mirror. It is much better if they look round.

Lord Nugent of Guildford

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that there is a further consideration? When a motor-cyclist has on a helmet, which he is legally obliged to wear, the helmet obstructs his backward glance. It is therefore all the more necessary for him to have a mirror on the handlebars. Will my noble friend ask the TRRL to have another look at this point?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I shall draw the attention of my honourable friend to the remarks that have been made in your Lordships' House. As I said earlier, it has never appeared to be a cause of great concern that motor-cycles should be compulsorily fitted with mirrors. If it is becoming so, I shall obviously draw my honourable friend's attention to the matter.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, the House will be grateful to the noble Lord for agreeing to do that. Will he please tell his right honourable friend that there is also a feeling that there should be proper consultations? There have obviously not been consultations with motoring organisations such as the RAC and the AA. Will he please press that point on his right honourable friend?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I will. I do not know whether there were consultations in the past. I am not aware of consultations, but there may have been in the past.

Lord Strathcarron

My Lords, does my noble friend recall the Question I asked some time ago when I suggested that nearside rearview mirrors on motor-cycles should be made compulsory? The gist of his reply then was that motor-cyclists should look where they were going and not worry about a rearview mirror. That strange argument could perhaps apply to all road vehicles.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I do not know whether we should move in one go from having no compulsory mirrors to having mirrors on both sides of the motor-cycle. In view of the debate that has taken place in the House this afternoon, I am sure that it is a matter which we should think about.

Lord Brougham and Vaux

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that most rearview mirrors on motor-cycles suffer from vibration and thereby give a distorted view of traffic coming behind and that all modern motor-cyclists are taught to look over their shoulders and not to use mirrors?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, my noble friend has put very succinctly what I have been trying to say during the course of this Question. I pointed out that mirrors normally fitted to handlebars do change their attitude but vibration is also a problem on motor-cycles. Therefore we still very firmly advise that motor-cyclists should look over their shoulders before changing direction.

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