§ Mr. Darling
Routine statistics do not record the primary cause of a r oad accident. However, under a pilot scheme, 15 police forces in Great Britain have provided information on contributory factors to accidents since 1999. In 2003 this information was available for about a third of all reported injury accidents in Great Britain. Among these, 30 per cent. of fatalities and 20 per cent. of serious casualties were in accidents where 'excessive speed' was a factor.
If the results from the pilot scheme were representative of the whole country, it would mean that over 1,000 deaths and about 6,600 serious injuries in Great Britain in 2003 were sustained in accidents where `excessive speed' was a contributory factor.
The contributory factor data are based on the opinions of police officers. In the case of accidents reported by a member of the public at a police station, these factors have to be determined from their description of the accident.
The true extent of the influence of speed as a contributory factor in road traffic accidents may be greater than suggested by the single factor 'excessive speed', as some other factors—such as 'following too close'—may also be associated with inappropriate speed. My Department is undertaking further analysis of the pilot contributory factor data and will publish an article later in the year.
Starting in January 2005 this pilot scheme will be replaced by a new set of questions on contributory factors, which will henceforward form an integral part of the road accident reporting system and will be collected by all police forces for accidents reported at scene by a police officer.
§ Mr. Jamieson
The Road Safety Strategy, published in March 2000 gave a commitment to revise and update our guidance to local authorities on the setting of local speed limits, currently in the form of Circular Roads 1/93. We will shortly issue a consultation draft of a revised Circular for comment, and we expect to finalise and publish the Circular early in 2005. In January this year we published a Ti affic Advisory Leaflet on village speed limits, recommending that the speed limit should usually be 30 miles per hour.