HC Deb 25 July 1988 vol 138 c145W
Mr. Bellingham

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has any plans to measure the effectiveness of the current design of crash barriers on Britain's roads; and whether he has any plans to improve that design.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

The effectiveness of existing safety fence designs has been measured in research and monitoring actual performance for over 20 years.

New designs of safety fences have been developed. The case for their deployment is now being assessed.

Mr. Bellingham

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will make a statement on the effectiveness of central reservation crash barriers on Britain's dual carriageways;

(2) what recent steps his Department has taken to improve the effectiveness of crash barriers on roads.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Existing safety fencing is designed to contain a 1.5 tonne vehicle travelling at 70 mph striking the fence at an angle of 20 degrees, and to redirect it safely. Extensive research and long experience have consistently shown that it performs at least as well as, and sometimes better than, this.

Inspection and maintenance regimes are in force during the installation and throughout the useful life of each safety fence. They will shortly be supplemented with mandatory quality assurance standards for contractors engaged in supplying and erecting fences. Such measures ensure that fences perform, and continue to perform, as effectively as they are designed to do.

The Department has developed a range of higher containment safety fences. We are currently looking at the costs and benefits of deploying them. The Department continues to keep all aspects of safety fence performance under close scrutiny. We will introduce further improvements whenever they can be justified.

Whatever their effectiveness, safety fences are not a substitute for safe driving.