§ Mr. Latham
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the comments which he has received from individual motor cyclists and from the British Motorcyclists Federation, regarding his proposals for leg protectors; and what response he has made.
§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
We welcome the stimulus to research by motor cycle manufacturers into the serious problem of leg injuries that has resulted from the widespread public debate about suitable protector design. Over 13,000 motor cyclists a year receive in-patient hospital treatment following road accidents, most of these accidents occur at low speeds—under 30mph. Over 60 per cent. of the serious injuries they suffered were to their legs, often leading to permanent disability. We circulated a draft specification for leg protectors to interested organisations for comments last July. This has generated a great deal of correspondence, including co-ordinated letter-writing campaigns. Unfortunately, some of the criticism was ill-informed.
We propose to work closely with manufacturers and other expert bodies over the next year in developing solutions to the leg injury problem. A letter has gone to the organisations consulted last July outlining how the research is to be carried forward over the next 12 months and making it clear that they will be included in consultation on the fruits of this co-operative effort next summer. Copies are available in the Library.
The Department will wish to be thoroughly assured of the safety benefits of any specification, whether the proposal that emerges is recommended as a requirement for all new vehicles, or might be prescribed as a safety standard for manufacturers to use when offering leg protectors as an option to their customers.