Road Safety

[Relevant documents: Second Report of the Transport Committee, HC 506, and the Government Response, HC 648.]
2.45 pm
Mrs Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Co-op): I will start by setting out the current situation.
The most recent annual report on road casualties was published last year and provides detailed information for 2011. In that year, there were 203,950 reported casualties on the roads of Great Britain. What is notable about the 2011 statistics is that they represent the first annual increase in the number of people killed in road accidents since 2003. The number of fatalities increased by 3% to 1,901. Fatalities increased for car occupants by 6% to 883 and for pedestrians by 12% to 453.
The number of people killed or seriously injured also increased by 2% to 25,023. In particular, those figures increased for cyclists, by 15% to 3,192, and motorcyclists, by 8% to 5,609—those are very sad figures. Despite that increase, our report recognises that the number of people killed or seriously injured in road accidents still remains lower than in any year since national records began, with the exception of 2010. The 2011 figures, however, represent a worrying departure from the long-term trend of decreasing road casualties, which raises questions about the Government’s road safety strategy. The figures should be a wake-up call for the Government to provide stronger leadership on road safety.
We asked the Government to explain why they think road deaths increased in 2011. The Department for Transport’s response stated that there were a number of factors that may have contributed to the year-on-year increase in road fatalities from 2010 to 2011, particularly given that
“2010 saw the highest ever fall (17 per cent) in a single year.”
The main reason for that change put forward by the Department was that periods of extreme winter weather in 2010 may have reduced the number of road fatalities in that year, as there would have been much less traffic than usual and those motorists who ventured out would have driven more slowly and cautiously. What other reasons does the Minister believe might lie behind that increase?
Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) (Lab): I am pleased that this debate is taking place, and I apologise for not being able to stay for all of it, but it means a great deal to my constituents. The Safer Trafford Streets campaign is bringing together a range of local people and local organisations to campaign for improved road safety. Does my hon. Friend share my concern that, in light of the figures that she has just revealed, councils, including Trafford council, are cutting road safety posts? We have lost one of our two local road safety officers as a result of council cuts, which obviously creates a further risk that the figures will decline.
Mrs Ellman: My hon. Friend points to the importance of local campaigning and the impact of cuts in local government spending on the ability of local authorities to address road safety. I will return to those points. It would also be helpful to know whether the Minister has any provisional information on whether the winter weather earlier this year led to fewer fatalities.
Political leadership is a major factor in road safety. For many, the presence of targets under previous Governments was a sign of that leadership; targets help to focus attention on road safety and to prioritise resources. The current Government, however, have decided to adopt a different approach. When the Government published their strategic framework for road safety in May 2011, they decided against the use of road targets. Instead, they have replaced targets with an action plan and an outcomes framework, consisting of a number of indicators to be measured and a set of casualty forecasts. If the forecasts turn out to be inaccurate, the Department has indicated that it will look at the statistical data and consider its policy options. Perhaps the Minister will elaborate on those options.
Localism, as mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green), is a key theme of the Government’s strategic approach to road safety: decentralising power and funding will allow local authorities to be more flexible and innovative in tackling it. Strong leadership and a clearer vision, however, are required from the centre to communicate the importance of road safety to local decision makers and other agencies. We concluded in our inquiry that, under conditions of reduced local authority resources and a loss of skilled road safety personnel, the Government should not sit back and assume that road safety will remain a priority. There remains a responsibility for central Government to do all that they can to keep local authorities, the police, other agencies and indeed the public fully focused on delivering significant and sustained improvements.
Our inquiry found considerable variation among local authorities in their performance on road safety. There were certainly examples of good practice, but there were also cases of local authorities not improving their road safety performance in recent years. The Department indicated that it had plans to name and shame the worst performing local authorities; we asked for further information about how that might be achieved and the possible impact, and we were told that the Department had commissioned a local road safety comparison site to pull together a number of metrics that would allow members of the public to be aware of their local highway authority’s road safety performance. The Government believe that making that information available will help the public, lobby groups and council officers and members to identify where there is room for improvement. On launching the website last month, the Minister explained in a written statement that it will help the public and road safety professionals to compare the road safety performance of local authorities.
I have, however, received a number of expressions of concern about the efficiency of the website. I am told that it does not allow comparison of different authorities in any meaningful way. For example, comparisons using annual data can be misleading due to large fluctuations in some of the information, and a considerable amount of work would need to be done by someone looking for comparative data. In addition, there does not appear to be an opportunity to compare the performance of neighbouring local authorities alongside one another on the screen. Can the Minister tell us how much it cost the Department to get the website up and running and whether he is satisfied that it will work effectively as a comparison tool? Furthermore, how does he intend to use it to improve road safety? Having that information will be extremely helpful.
I will mention a number of areas of particular concern in road safety, the first being the safety of young drivers. It is not a new area of concern, and the Transport Committee has looked at it a number of times; the first report of the Select Committee that I was involved with was completed in July 2007. Today, I welcome the report by PACTS—the parliamentary advisory committee for transport safety—which again draws attention to this important issue. The figures are startling: a fifth of people killed or seriously injured on our roads in 2011 were involved in a collision in which at least one driver was aged between 17 and 24; 148 young drivers died and 412 people were killed in accidents involving young drivers, accounting for 22% of all road deaths; 4,894 people were killed or seriously injured in reported accidents involving young car drivers, including 1,552 young car drivers themselves, 936 passengers of young car drivers and 2,406 other casualties, such as occupants of other vehicles or pedestrians; and 27% of 17 to 19-year-old males are involved in a road collision within the first year of passing their test. Those are shocking statistics, and behind every statistic lies a human tragedy. Improving the safety of young drivers must be a priority and must be addressed urgently.
I was disappointed that the Government did not accept the Committee’s recommendation to initiate an independent review of driver training. Instead, the Department intends a Green Paper on improving safety and reducing risks for young drivers. Is the Department considering measures such as a minimum learning period and is it learning from lessons on the motorways to reduce young driver crashes? When will the Green Paper be published and what are the expected time scales for consultation and implementation? Implementing new policies inevitably takes time, so it would also be helpful to get an update from the Minister on specific action by the Department to improve the safety of young drivers and their passengers. What proposals does he have to encourage work with young people, perhaps before they drive, to change their attitude, which is the all-important issue? We do not want young new drivers, young male drivers in particular, to start driving with an attitude of bravado and without realising that a car can be a lethal weapon. The Government are concerned, but we need some urgency. Furthermore, are the Government looking to support voluntary organisations such as car clubs which can assist in this important area?
Cyclists are particularly vulnerable on the road: in 2011, 3,085 cyclists were killed or seriously injured. During our inquiry, The Times newspaper conducted a major campaign on the issue and gave evidence to the Committee. One criticism made by witnesses during our inquiry was about the lack of leadership from the Government on cycle safety. The Department told us that it had set up a cycling stakeholder forum, which was working on a list of ideas and actions to propose to Ministers. How often has that forum met over the past year and, as a result, what actions are being taken forward by the Department? Information from the Minister on that will be helpful.
I welcome the Government setting up the £40 million cycle safety fund, to improve road layouts in particular. The Government were reacting to concerns expressed, which is commendable, but there is a great deal more to do. Cycle safety could be improved in a number of different ways, including training, fitting heavy goods vehicles with sensors and providing infrastructure. Can the Department consider how to encourage the greater adoption of HGV sensors that might make cyclists more visible to lorry drivers? The Department told us that it was not in a position to support mandatory fitment of proximity sensors in HGVs and that the mandatory introduction of any new vehicle technology would need to be agreed at European Union level, so will the Minister update us on his discussions at EU level and whether there is support for such EU-wide regulations?
Motorcyclists are another vulnerable group; they accounted for 1% of traffic but 19% of deaths on Britain’s roads in 2011; 5,609 motorcyclists were killed or seriously injured, with 74% of those accidents involving another vehicle, and 69% of the casualties resulted from accidents at junctions. The Department continues to promote motorcycle road safety through its Think! campaign. The Department said in its response to our report that a review of the motorcycle safety advertising campaign was under way to inform the development of the new campaign plan for 2014. I would be grateful if the Minister told us what lessons were learned from that review and how they have informed the new Think! road safety initiative to encourage motorcyclists to improve their defensive riding skills.
On motorcycle safety, we also sought in our report an update on the changes to the motorcycle test, another area that the Transport Committee has looked at in the past. It has also expressed great concern about the new European motorcycle test. The Department told us that research is being undertaken to evaluate the standard, suitability and safety of the proposed revised motorcycle manoeuvres. We were informed that phase three of the research was due to conclude at the end of last year, and that a full public consultation would follow. Will the Minister update us on that?
Finally, I want to discuss speed limits and their role in making our roads safer. Local authorities have found that 20 mph zones are useful in improving road safety, particularly by reducing pedestrian and cyclist casualties. There is evidence of significant public support for these zones. Indeed, this is another area of policy that is being implemented for which the Transport Committee made strong recommendations when it considered transport safety in the past.
I welcome the fact that the Government have recently updated their guidance to help local councils to implement more consistent speed limits on local roads.
Mr John Leech (Manchester, Withington) (LD): Does the hon. Lady agree that as a result of Government action it will be significantly cheaper for local authorities to implement 20 mph zones, and that the excuse that local authorities often used for not doing so is now significantly diminished as a result of that action.
Mrs Ellman: I welcome the Government’s measures in this area. One reason for the slow progress in some local authorities in the past was the cost of that and other measures that they had to implement at the same time. I am pleased that the revised guidance incorporates recent changes and that that creates more flexibility for authorities to implement 20 mph limits and zones.
The Government have been less clear about their views on motorway speed limits. During our inquiry, we heard a range of views on the possibility that the Government might raise it to 80 mph. We heard from many witnesses who are worried that the proposals would result in more deaths on the road.
Mr Leech: I supported the Government position on the 20 mph limit, but I certainly do not support the suggestion that motorway speed limits should be raised to 80 mph. When I was a member of the Transport Committee, it was made fairly clear that there was no evidence that additional resources would be given to the police to ensure that they would enforce an 80 mph speed limit. One argument for trialling an 80 mph limit in the first place was that if it were introduced it would somehow be enforced. That will never happen.
Mrs Ellman: The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. He was a member of the Committee when we conducted our inquiry, and I clearly remember him raising the matter in his questioning. The views that he expressed in the Committee are on the record, as his comments today will be.
We were informed during our inquiry by the then Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning), that a consultation period would begin soon. However, to date there has been no formal consultation on this proposal and there have been rumours in the media that the Government no longer wish to pursue that policy. Will the Minister update us on the Government’s position? I would be grateful if he also told us what work the Department has carried out to assess the impact of trialling this proposal, which was one suggestion? Will he assure us that any decision to increase the speed limit will follow a debate in the House on a votable motion, as the Committee requested?
In conclusion, road safety is a vital issue. Behind every casualty statistic is a human tragedy. Road safety is a matter on which the Government should show more leadership. It is immensely regrettable that 2011 saw the first annual increase in the number of people killed in road accidents since 2003, and that the number of people killed or seriously injured also increased in that period.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Stephen Hammond): I am sure the hon. Lady wants to put on the record the fact that, although she is absolutely right that the figures for 2011 are entirely regrettable and unacceptable, the provisional figures for 2012 show a welcome drop back to the trend that we saw before the blip caused by the bad weather in 2011.
Mrs Ellman: I am aware of the provisional figures. We need to see the official figures so that we can analyse them properly and ensure that they are the start of a return to the trend over a number of years of reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads. I know that the Government are firm in their commitment to bring more safety to our roads and to reduce casualties, and I look forward to hearing more proposals about how they will put their commitment into practice.
Hugh Bayley(in the Chair): I should tell colleagues that I am expecting Parliament to prorogue this afternoon, probably around 3.25 pm, and it might be helpful to have an informal understanding that we will seek to finish the debate by that time. We can continue until prorogation, but when it happens I must immediately call an end to the debate. We should ensure that the Minister has no less than 10 minutes to respond.
Mr Hammond: The hon. Lady has rightly charged me to respond to a number of points. I have a speech of considerably longer than 10 minutes, but I am happy to try to wind up in five minutes to allow colleagues to speak, given the time scale.
Hugh Bayley(in the Chair): All hon. Members are aware of the likely time constraint.
3.7 pm
Bill Wiggin (North Herefordshire) (Con): I will delay the Chamber for only a few moments. I want to draw attention to the tremendous work of Dr Ruth Brinton, who was deputy principal of Hereford sixth form college, in trying to cut the number of deaths of young people aged 17 and 18. They are more likely to be involved in a road traffic accident if there are more them in the car than if they are driving alone. To that end, she put together “E-driver”, an interactive video with questions to remind 16-year-olds in particular of their responsibilities as passengers and as new and young drivers. It is an extremely hard-hitting film that was put together free by the police and fire brigade. It is available to every school and I hope—this is my purpose in speaking today—to encourage the Minister to encourage the Department for Education to ensure that 17-year-olds have a chance to see it. It could be adapted to make it more relevant to different counties, but it works extremely well in any area. It reminds young people that texting and doing the things they do when not in a car really is very dangerous, particularly for young drivers. I hope the Minister will use his good offices to ensure that “E-driver” is seen by all 17-year-olds so that we cut the number of deaths of young and vulnerable drivers.
3.9 pm
Iain Stewart (Milton Keynes South) (Con): I shall endeavour to be as brief as I can, Mr Bayley. First, I must declare an interest as a trustee of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety—an unremunerated trustee, I hasten to add.
I want to raise three broad points. The first is one I mentioned in the previous debate on electric vehicles. The Government need to address the fact that electric vehicles are very quiet, which poses a particular danger to visually impaired people. I was reassured by the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker), that action is being taken at European level. However, it is important for road safety that the number of casualties does not increase with the number of quieter vehicles.
I also want to focus on the two groups where there is the biggest risk of road safety issues increasing: cyclists and young motorists. There have been a number of debates on cycling in the House. Several technological innovations, such as sensors on lorries, mirrors and the like, will help, but there are two essential components to making cycling safer. One is greater separation of cycle paths and roads, and the other is training. Milton Keynes is a leading example of separation; we have a completely separate cycle network. I appreciate that that would be difficult to retrofit into more traditional towns and cities, but that is the way forward; it is the single biggest thing we could do. On training, the Government need to explore new ways of building into training for drivers and cyclists the need to be more considerate of other road users. Many cyclists and motorists are perfectly considerate, but too many—an aggressive minority—believe they own the road, and that is true on both sides. When that mentality exists, accidents happen. I would therefore welcome the Minister’s comments on how we are improving training.
Finally, on young motorists, a number of initiatives to reduce the risks they face are worthy of consideration, and the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs Ellman) mentioned the use of increased technology in cars. Real- time information, a black box recorder or whatever we call want to call it will also be an exciting way of reducing motor insurance premiums. If a young driver knows someone is watching them, that will encourage better behaviour.
There are other proposals—I will not go through them in detail—about restricting the times young motorists can drive and the number of passengers under a certain age they can have in their car, as well as having a zero alcohol limit for newly qualified drivers. The Government should have a way of evaluating all those options and, indeed, the type of scheme my hon. Friend the Member for North Herefordshire (Bill Wiggin) ably mentioned.
There is another suggestion I would put on the table. The Institute of Advanced Motorists is an excellent organisation, but I am not certain the training it makes available for young motorists is that widely known. Perhaps the Government could facilitate a publicity campaign and work with insurance companies so that drivers who had further accreditation could have a discount on their motor insurance premiums. In the interests of time, however, and to give both Front-Bench speakers a decent chance to comment, I will conclude my remarks there.
3.3 pm
Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse) (Lab): It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Mr Bayley. It is also a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Milton Keynes South (Iain Stewart), who is a member of the Transport Committee. I can be brief, because the Chairman of the Committee has raised most of the points I would have elaborated on, and we obviously want to hear the Minister’s response to her questions.
In the few minutes I have, I would like to thank the Committee for its excellent report. The Government response is also positive, and there is a lot to be taken from it. I also thank the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, Living Streets and the Motor Schools Association for their submissions to me when I was considering the report.
It is important to put on record that the cross-party consensus on road safety was broken by the former Secretary of State for Transport, the right hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), when he abolished targets as part of the Government’s approach to road safety. He opposed targets in principle. He used the mantra of the war on the motorist as part of his explanation, but there was never a war on the motorist—there was a war on dangerous and careless driving. None the less, targets went and, as the Committee said in its excellent report, the reduction in the number of deaths over the past 20 years in every industrialised country that uses targets varies
“between 4% and probably about 17%”.
Targets therefore have a proven track record. They were introduced by the Thatcher Administration in the late ’80s, and they had cross-party support for the following 30 years.
There was movement following the arrival of the next Secretary of State for Transport, the right hon. Member for Putney (Justine Greening), and there has been movement under the current Secretary of State. The introduction of forecasts, with much more elaboration of how they will be determined, is a positive move. Perhaps the Minister can say a little more about the road safety observatory, which sounds positive. Is there really a difference between targets and forecasts, or is there just a difference in the words? Perhaps he can also tell us about naming and shaming, which has been mentioned. Will it be down to road safety campaigners and local authorities to do that?
On young drivers, we would like to know when the Government’s research and their proposals will be available. The hon. Member for Milton Keynes South also asked about graduated learning, and there are some positive suggestions. I am sure there is consensus on that issue. Other issues include young people not being able to get to work in areas where there are no good public transport links. There are issues to be looked at, but the question is, when will the Government come forward with proposals? The question of timing is raised in the Committee’s report. Similarly, on motorcycle safety, we are still waiting for the conclusions from the work started in 2011. The Minister might want to say a little about that.
The hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr Leech) and the Committee Chair raised the issue of speed limits in transport questions this morning, because there have been mixed messages about motorway speed limits. They were initially going to be tested in 2011. It is now 2013, and there have been statements saying, “No, we’re not going that way.” This morning, however, the Secretary of State said the Government will start trials later this year. That is a very mixed message, and it will not be welcomed by the road safety community. The Minister might like to say something about that and about increasing the use of 20 mph limits in our communities.
Road safety should not be political. I commend the Minister, who made an excellent speech at yesterday’s launch of the report by the all-party group on cycling. He made all the right noises about the campaign by The Times, which the Government are clearly taking seriously.
Perhaps he will confirm that they will treat the all-party group’s report like a Select Committee report so that we could have a debate on it. The Committee has also raised the question of votability in relation to the 80 mph trials.
Many of us have lobbied for road safety debating time, and it is a real shame that when we get it, we run up against Prorogation. Mr Bayley, I am sure you can take that message back to the Speaker. A number of us will also approach the Backbench Business Committee to try to get a proper debate in due course.
Road safety should not be political; indeed, it generally is not, and there is consensus on it. I commend the Minister on his determination to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on our roads, because every death is a tragedy for the families and friends of those involved. If six people died every day on trains or in planes, we would have public inquiry after public inquiry. We are killing that number of people on our roads, but the publicity is just not there, and we, as politicians, are not giving the issue as much priority as we should.
Engagement with the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department of Health and the Treasury is a positive way forward. As I say, I commend the Minister and his officials on their efforts. I also commend the road safety campaign groups. We need to keep driving the numbers down. We have been massively successful over the past 30 years, and much has been done, but, as ever, there is much more to do.
3.19 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Stephen Hammond): It is good to see you in the Chair, Mr Bayley. I can only echo the sentiments of the hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse (Jim Fitzpatrick). It is always a pleasure to follow him; he has a sensible and pragmatic approach to the present subject and to others in his portfolio. I shall of course probably not be able to deal with all the points that I have been asked about.
I welcome the Select Committee report, and listened carefully to the speech of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs Ellman). As I have mentioned, I suspect that I shall not, in the relatively short time that will be available to me, cover all her questions or those of the shadow Minister; however, because of that, should they care to write to me, I shall make sure that those questions are answered fully.
The number of fatalities has now returned to a downward trend. There was a 7% decrease in the 12 months to the end of September 2012, in comparison with the previous 12 months. There were 1,770 deaths, and that is the lowest number on record for a 12-month period. However, as I have often said, and as the Opposition have said too—it is not a party political issue—road fatalities are not statistics, but someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter. Those are real lives, cut short. I accept that the strategic framework does not carry targets, but that does not mean that there is not a clear vision for continuing to avoid complacency and drive down the number of casualties. We will be judged on the actions that we take, and the outcomes.
I want to talk briefly about enforcement. We are creating a new offence of driving with a specified drug in the body, above certain limits, to make it easier to enforce the law against drug-driving. We are consulting on improving the enforcement of the drink-driving laws, and changing the treatment of fixed penalty notices. I expect to make a further announcement about that relatively shortly. We shall make it easier for the police to tackle careless driving, by consulting on making it a fixed penalty notice offence.
I shall use the bulk of my time to talk about young drivers. That continues to be a matter of paramount concern. One fifth of the people killed or seriously injured in collisions on the roads in 2011—those are the most recent absolutely accurate numbers—were aged 17 to 24. As pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for North Herefordshire (Bill Wiggin) and others, it is not only young drivers whom we need to educate; we should educate young people about the roads before they become drivers. I appreciate, welcome and encourage initiatives by charities and car clubs to start people thinking at 14 about how they should interact safely with the road. We shall put continuing funding into Bikeability for the next two years before the general election.
Our forthcoming young drivers Green Paper will consider a range of innovative proposals for reforming young driver training and thus improving safety. I do not want to prejudge the options or the outcome, but I expect the Green Paper to include temporary restrictions on young drivers after they pass their test; there is a delicate balance between making those drivers safer and not impinging on their freedoms. I expect that it will also include a minimum learning period before candidates are allowed to sit the test; allowing learners to practise some form of motorway driving; and providing incentives for young drivers to continue their training once they have passed their test.
That is one area in which we are working with the insurance industry. We want to consider measures to reduce premiums and improve safety. Research shows that telematics can significantly reduce crash rates and risky driving behaviour. I welcome the increase in the number of insurers using that technology. Improving the safety of young drivers will not only reduce casualty rates, but make insurance more affordable, so that fewer people will commit an offence in that respect.
I should like to say much more about young drivers, but because of time pressure I shall now move on to the THINK! campaigns. Those marketing campaigns continue to play an extraordinarily important role in reminding drivers of key road safety messages. In the autumn, we launched one for drivers and cyclists, reminding them to consider their behaviour towards others. We recently launched a campaign urging drivers to look out for motorcyclists, particularly at those junctions where they have been proved to be vulnerable. That campaign follows coherently from what we set up last autumn.
That is not all, however, and it should not be. The £107 million made available by the Government through 2012 to improve the cycling infrastructure in England includes £35 million for attention to those junctions that we have judged, and local authorities have presented, as the most dangerous for cyclists. As the hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr Leech) said, we have made it easier for councils to introduce zones with speed limits of 20 mph. We have also made it simpler for councils to install Trixi mirrors to improve cyclist visibility at junctions.
Improving cycling safety remains a key priority for the whole Government. I was delighted about attending the launch of the all-party group report, yesterday, and about the commitments that were made. My colleague as Under-Secretary, the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker), continues to work with cycling stakeholders on what more can be done. As I pledged yesterday, he and that group will consider the recommendations of the report, and submit a Government response. We intend to treat it like a Select Committee report, as we committed ourselves to do at its hearings.
We are also improving pedestrian safety. The local sustainable transport fund is providing £600 million for projects to support local growth and reduce carbon emissions, but many of the schemes improve aspects of the routes that pedestrians most commonly use, and crossings. There are also schemes to boost safety awareness. We expect any further extension of the fund to include those benefits. We are also updating the THINK! education assets that we provide for use in schools. I expect when the next iteration is launched, it will have much more accessible material.
Last month, we launched the new research portal, the road safety observatory. It gives road safety professionals access to research on a variety of topics. The site is part funded by the Department and a board drawn from various road safety bodies. The observatory will be a live site, updated whenever new research is produced. Such sites help local authorities to assess their own progress, establish where action is needed and identify best practice. The project is not an attempt just to name and shame; it is intended to be positive, so that local authorities will see where best practice has been established, and follow it.
The Department is aware that several local authorities use such sites to look at their performance. We have been pleased with the response so far from road safety bodies, with respect to the value and validity of the research and statistics. We had not yet heard the concerns expressed by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside, but I will ensure that we keep that matter under review when we are preparing any response. I do not have a list of the costs of establishment or maintenance that she asked for, but I undertake to provide those details to her in a letter.
As to the Green Paper time scale, I should perhaps have said that we intend to consult on the proposals before the summer recess, and hopefully by the end of June. I anticipate a full 12-week consultation. I now seem to have a little longer for my speech than I expected, so I may pick up some more points that were made in the debate.
Hugh Bayley (in the Chair): My guess is maybe two or three minutes.
Stephen Hammond: I am grateful, Mr Bayley.
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside asked me how often there are meetings of the cycle safety stakeholder group. It meets four times a year. It met in January and is next due to meet in May. The motorcycle test review was brought up, in particular, by the hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse. There was a delay in the test review research, due to recruiting a number of candidates to ensure that the test had validity, but that difficulty has been overcome. I am expecting to receive the final report of those tests, again, in the month of May, and the Government commit to making a statement further to that.
It is fitting that this debate is taking place only a few days before UN global road safety week. That week’s very existence is a reminder of how tragically common, as the hon. Gentleman so rightly pointed out, road deaths are across the globe, and still are in this country. It is also a reminder of how preventable many of those deaths are and how much we still have to do. We welcome the UN’s launch of a decade for action on road safety, and the Government recognise that in our road safety policies.
We are proud of the country’s road safety record, but far from complacent and determined to improve on it: by training and testing drivers more effectively, particularly young drivers; by raising the awareness of road safety; by legislating in response to changing road conditions; by ensuring that the enforcement agencies and the police have the right ability to enforce the law with regard to drivers and vehicles; and by investing in our roads, particularly concentrating some of that investment on the most dangerous road junctions.
Road safety remains a top priority for the Government. The Transport Committee’s report makes an important contribution to the country’s strategy for road safety. We will continue to consider the Committee’s recommendations, as we look at ways in which lives in this country can by saved by preventing road accidents.
Hugh Bayley (in the Chair): I thank all Members for co-operating to make sure that we could bring the debate to an end.
Question put and agreed to.
3.31 pm
Sitting adjourned.
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