HC Deb 07 June 1972 vol 838 cc92-4W
Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what action he is taking to publicise the achievements and results of joint research and developments in safety projects by British car and component manufacturers and the Road Research Laboratory; and whether he will make a statement;

(2) whether he will make a statement about the nature and extent of the advanced research and development projects in the Experimental Safety Vehicle Programme in conjunction with British car manufacturers.

Mr. Peyton

Below is the text of a statement I made at a Press conference, held by myself and the President of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders on Monday, 22nd May. I will also place in the Library copies of the papers and technical specifications for the United Kingdom ESV project released at the Transpo Exhibition at Dulles, Washington, last week.

Following is the text of the statement:

Statement by Mr. John Peyton, Minister for Transport Industries

Monday, 15th May, 1972

The grim statistics of death and injury on our roads are not things which any civilised society should tolerate or turn away from. While undoubtedly the most important contribution to better safety would be better driving and a more careful use of roads, the safety of the vehicle itself is something which both receives and deserves careful attention. I fully supported the initiative of the United States Secretary for Transportation when he put forward the experimental safety vehicle project. Progress will be seen at an Exhibition at Dulles at the end of this month. The British cars on show there will be modified production models incorporating systems which could without much difficulty be built into all new vehicles and so make an early contribution to safety.

Our research programme has three main aims.

  1. 1. Accident avoidance. This means concentration on better handling capabilities e.g. anti locking brakes and on equipment that will give drivers more information about what their own and other vehicles are doing—for instance, head-up display speedometers and station keeping devices.
  2. 2. Occupant protection. Here, the purpose is to develop better car body structures and improved restraint systems.
  3. 3. Pedestrian safety—a high priority when one remembers that 40 per cent, of all fatalities on British roads involve pedestrians.

There is one further point of importance. The cost of every improvement has to be paid by the motorist. Cars should be safer; but they should not be as a result so expensive that ordinary people cannot afford to buy them. That is why we decided to go for the development of safety systems which could be incorporated quickly and at reasonable cost into ordinary production vehicles. In that way we believe that we will be able to secure a more rapid as well as a more effective contribution to safety on our roads.

I would like to thank Sir Kenneth Corley the President of SMMT and those whose time and effort have made these exhibits possible. They are I think useful and practical examples of what can be achieved by sensible co-operation between Government and Industry.