HC Deb 11 February 1998 vol 306 cc232-3W
Mr. Paice

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what studies his Department has(a) undertaken and (b) evaluated regarding the incidence of road accidents among young drivers in the first year after passing the test; and what comparisons it has made with the statistics for Northern Ireland following the introduction of probationer status there. [28883]

Ms Glenda Jackson

[holding answer 10 February 1998]: A study was undertaken for the Department by the Transport Research Laboratory into about 29,000 drivers (of all ages) who took their driving test on certain days in 1988–89 including the subsequent accident history of those who passed the test. The Queen's University, Belfast, undertook a study of "rosericted" drivers in Northern Ireland (those in their first year after passing the driving test) for the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland in 1992–93. The latter study included a comparison with the findings of the Great Britain study and found no evidence that the number of accidents in the first year in Northern Ireland was reduced by the existence of the "rosericted driver" regulations.

Mr. Stringer

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will announce the latest available figures from the survey his Department is presently conducting into the incidence of drugs in fatal road accident victims; and if will make a statement. [29038]

Ms Glenda Jackson

The survey, over a three year period, started in October 1996. A copy of the Department's report on the interim results, to 7 January 1998 has today been placed in the Library.

It is too early to draw firm conclusions from the findings, although general trends so far remain very consistent. Fuller results will be needed before the Government can consider and propose any measures that may appear to be necessary. Further findings will be published when we can reach a firm view.

Screening devices which may be suitable for detecting the presence of drugs in motorists are to be trialled by four police forces for a short period from mid-March. The trials are intended to establish whether the screening devices are sufficiently robust and practical for the conditions likely to be encountered at the roadside—not to test for the presence of drugs.

Traffic police from the Cleveland, Lancashire, Strathclyde and Sussex forces will ask motorists to volunteer to be tested—the police have no power to require anyone to undertake such a screening test. Volunteers names or their car registrations will not be recorded. Police will not test those who are obviously impaired through alcohol or drugs—they will be dealt with using existing powers.

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