HC Deb 09 November 1939 vol 353 cc436-8W
Mr. Creech Jones

asked the Minister of Transport what number of deaths by accident occurred on the roads during September and October; and what steps he has taken since the black-out started to minimise the possibilities of accident?

Captain Wallace

The number of persons reported to have died as a result of road accidents in Great Britain during the months of September and October were 1,130 and 919, respectively.

As regards the second part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the statement which I made on the 18th October in reply to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing. Since that date, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Home Security has instituted further experiments with the object of ascertaining whether a system of reduced street lighting could be installed which would be of assistance to pedestrians and drivers but at the same time would not be visible from the air. These experiments are not yet concluded, and it is therefore not yet possible to say whether any such system of street lighting is feasible. For the red lights which were at first used for the purpose of marking refuges where no illuminated bollards were provided, distinctive lamps displaying a white St. Andrew's Cross are being substituted so that drivers of vehicles may be in no doubt as to the nature of the obstruction they are approaching. Measures have been taken to increase safety during fog by permitting the use of fog-lamps on vehicles and flares on the roads in foggy weather. Discussions have taken place with representatives of operators of public service vehicles and of the Transport and General Workers Union with a view to seeing whether any improvement can be made in the lighting of public service vehicles in order to reduce the strain upon drivers and conductors. Arrangements have been made to ensure that full advantage is taken of the standard of lighting permitted under the Lighting Order both for headlamps and interior lighting, and the question of slightly modifying the requirements as to headlamps to meet the particular needs of public service vehicles is under consideration. In order that full advantage may be taken by motorists generally of the new headlamp mask, steps have been taken to give publicity to the proper method of fitting the mask. It is hoped that it will shortly be possible to make the use of this type of mask compulsory. My right hon. Friend—the Minister for Home Security —and I recently met representatives of associations interested in road traffic and of the police and discussed with them the problem of accidents in the "black-out."

The suggestions made at the conference are now being considered; in particular, I am about to make an Order prohibiting vehicles from being left at night on the wrong side of the road.