HL Deb 02 July 1990 vol 520 cc1885-6

Baroness Macleod of Borve asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, in the interests of road safety, they will encourage the use of a third brake light in the rear windows of cars and taxis.

Viscount Davidson

Yes, my Lords. The Government have proposed amendments to the European standards for the installation of lights on cars. If these amendments were agreed, the additional stop lamp could be required by any member state choosing to do so. Unfortunately, it has not so far been possible to obtain agreement in the European Community to these amendments, as some other member states have opposed them. The subject is due to be discussed again, at our instigation, in Brussels on 13th July.

Baroness Macleod of Borve

My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Minister for that very encouraging reply. I wish the Government luck in the discussions. However, can he say, first, whether any of our well-known organisations are encouraging this step here? Secondly, is it correct that any individual citizen can put a brake light, as I have done, in the rear of his car?

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, I shall deal first with my noble friend's second question. The answer is, yes. However, as regards her first question, I am not sure which organisations she has in mind, but I can tell her that the British School of Motoring has fitted a third brake light to the whole of its fleet of Metros. The school has found that such action has resulted in an 18 per cent. reduction in rear-end collisions. The House can draw its own conclusions from that information.

Lord Strathcarron

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that in New York an experiment was carried out whereby half the cabs were fitted with an additional high rear light while the others were not? Is he further aware that the accident rate for the ones fitted with the extra light at the rear was very much lower than that for those cabs which were not so equipped?

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that information. I can tell the House that the United States and Canada require the additional brake light, while the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland and the other Scandinavian countries allow it; but all the other EC states prohibit its installation.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

My Lords, I think that we all accept the fact that this is a safety measure. However, can the Minister say whether any attention has been paid to the fact that many of these lights appear—at least, to me—to be far too intense and that they can be rather disturbing to some people? Moreover, although I am taking the matter a little further than the issue of rear-end collisions, can he say whether anything has transpired from the experiment with road marking to keep vehicles a decent distance apart? I believe that there is an experimental stretch of road which is being used for this purpose. I appreciate the fact that this is slightly wide of the Question on the Order Paper, but it is aimed at the same basic effort to stop rear-end collisions.

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, the noble Lord asks a most interesting question. However, as he said, it goes slightly wide of the Question on the Order Paper. Nevertheless, I shall write to him on the matter.

Last year, my noble friend Lord Brabazon of Tara said that to avoid dazzle we were proposing that in future stop lamps fitted in the rear windscreens of new cars should be half of the intensity of standard stop lamps. I can now tell the House that the regulations were duly made last year to that effect, so that in future such lights will not be dazzling.

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