Written Answers 18 to 22 January 2010

Monday 18 January 2010

Automatic Number Plate Recognition
Bob Russell: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent discussions he has had with operators of motorway service areas on the installation of automatic plate registration number equipment; and if he will make a statement. [310618]

Chris Mole: Operational issues affecting the management of a service area are the responsibility of the site operator and Government have not been involved in discussions regarding the installation of automatic number plate recognition equipment.

Driving: Safety
Bob Russell: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport (1) what consideration he has given to the effects on (a) road safety and (b) operational efficiency of the displacement of commercial vehicles from motorway service areas whose drivers are required by the terms of their operators licence to take breaks of in excess of two hours in driving; and if he will make a statement; [310614]

(2) if he will investigate the effects on the drivers of commercial vehicles who are required by the terms of their operator’s licence to take a break of in excess of two hours of motor service areas restrictions on parking for more than two hours; and if he will make a statement. [310619]

Chris Mole: Motorway service areas are required, as outlined in the Government’s Policy on Roadside Facilities on Motorways and All-Purpose Trunk Roads (DFT circular January 2008), to provide free parking for up to two hours for all types of vehicle. This allows drivers of commercial vehicles to comply with the break requirements in the EU drivers’ hours rules which were introduced to support road safety. After two hours, operators are permitted to charge for parking.

The Government plan, as part of their strategy for lorry parking provision in England, to undertake a formal review of the whole policy, which will include its role in contributing to road safety and operational efficiency.

Bob Russell: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport (1) when he last had discussions with (a) representatives of road safety organisations and (b) motoring organisations representing drivers of (i) private cars and (ii) commercial operators regarding drivers on long journeys on motorways taking a break; and if he will make a statement; [310615]

(2) what his policy is on encouraging drivers of all categories of vehicles to take breaks while on long journeys; and if he will make a statement. [310617]

Paul Clark: The Department for Transport meets and consults with road safety and motoring organisations to discuss a range of motoring related issues from time to time. It was a member of a recent sub-group on fatigue issues of the Health and Safety Executive’s Road Death Action Group which met with the industry and trade unions to agree best practice and advice to employers.

The Department’s policy is to encourage drivers to plan their journeys to include breaks every two hours or so. Advice is contained in rule 91 of the current Highway Code, which is available online. The Department’s THINK! Road Safety and Driving for Better Business campaigns also provide advice on driver sleepiness. These are online at:

www.dft.gov.uk/think

and

http://www.drivingforbetterbusiness.com/

respectively.

Bob Russell: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will make it his policy to erect ‘tiredness kills, take a break’ signs on trunk roads in the vicinity of service areas; and if he will make a statement. [310616]

Chris Mole: The Highways Agency does authorise the use of signs with the legend ‘Tiredness can kill Take a break’ to raise driver awareness of the need, on a long journey, for drivers to stop at a service area for a break in their journey. There is no evidence to prove that this type of sign, if installed in advance of every service area, would generate significant road safety improvements. They are placed on motorways and dual carriageway trunk roads where there is a very considerable distance between service areas or where there is a known problem of driver fatigue.

Heating: Housing
Mr. Chope: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will extend the derogation on drivers’ hours for the delivery of home heating fuels beyond 18 January 2010. [311307]

Paul Clark: On 15 January a further extension to the relaxation of the enforcement of the EU drivers’ hours rules was granted for the distribution of gas/oil and liquid petroleum gas. The relaxation runs until 23.59 on 25 January 2010.

Roads: Police
Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what evaluation his Department has made of the effects of the joint Home Office/Department for Transport/Association of Chief Police Officers strategy on roads policing published in January 2005; and if he will make a statement. [309528]

Paul Clark: The Department for Transport has not made any formal evaluation of the effects of the joint Roads Policing Strategy. However, the strategy provides a useful framework for our close cooperation with the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers towards the goal of making our roads safer for all road users.

Roads: Safety
Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 3 December 2009, Official Report, columns 136-38WS, on road safety, when he plans to publish his Department’s response to its consultation on road safety entitled “A Safer Way”. [309451]

Paul Clark: On 3 December 2009, we announced that an independent expert, Sir Peter North, had been appointed to examine the possible changes to the law on drink and drug driving.

The timing of the new road safety strategy will depend on the outcome of Sir Peter North’s report, which will inform the final contents of the strategy. We therefore expect to publish our response to the “A Safer Way” road safety consultation alongside the new road safety strategy.

Driving: Licences
Question asked by Lord Lucas

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they will undertake a consultation on the effects of Commission Directive 2009/113/EC on the eligibility criteria for a United Kingdom driving licence. [HL1175]

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): My department is considering the requirements and expects to consult on changes to the minimum medical standards as early as practical.

Roads: Advertising Hoardings
Question asked by Lord Lloyd-Webber

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what planning permissions for advertising hoardings and product showrooms beside major roads were granted in 2009; and whether the potential distractions caused by advertising hoardings and showrooms are taken into account in such cases.[HL1067]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The information requested is not collected centrally. Local planning authorities are required to exercise their powers under the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007 with regard to, among other things, amenity and public safety. This is set out in regulation 3. Factors relevant to public safety include the safety of persons using any highway; whether the advertisement is likely to obscure, or hinder the ready interpretation of, any traffic sign; or whether the display of the advertisement is likely to hinder the operation of any device for measuring the speed of any vehicle. These principles are reflected in the standard conditions in Schedule 2 to the regulations.

Highway safety would also be a material consideration in the determination of planning permissions.

Transport: Heavy Goods Vehicles
Question asked by Lord Steel of Aikwood

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their stance on the proposal that the European Commission may increase the size of heavy goods vehicles permitted on trunk roads. [HL1186]

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): The Government’s clear understanding is that the European Commission has no current intention to bring forward any proposal which, if agreed by member states, would impose a significant increase in vehicle weights and dimensions.

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Roads: Salt
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport whether there are plans for the Highways Agency to hold a central strategic reserve of salt. [311791]

Mr. Khan: There are currently no plans for the Highways Agency to hold a central strategic reserve of salt. However, when the current period of very cold weather has concluded, there will be a lessons learned based exercise, during which all practical options for increasing the salt stock resilience across the network will be examined.

Roads: Snow and Ice
Nick Harvey: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport (1) what guidance his Department provides on the maximum amount of grit to be laid on roads during icy weather conditions; [310439]

(2) what guidance his Department provides to local authorities on the treatment of exposed roads, with particular reference to roads which have frozen over after having been gritted. [310440]

Mr. Khan: The UK Roads Liaison Group (UKRLG) has published a code of practice for highway maintenance “Well maintained highways”. The code of practice includes guidance on winter service. The UKRLG recently published a revision to their winter service guidance. Both the code of practice and the revised guidance on winter service are available free on the UKRLG website:

http://www.ukroadsliaisongroup.org/

The guidance on winter service applies to roads affected by snow and ice and includes advice on materials that can be used for winter service. Recommended treatment rates for salt under different conditions are also provided.

Through ongoing detailed research and analysis, the Highways Agency has developed a treatment matrix, which provides guidance for its service providers on appropriate treatment rates for their network. This matrix is under continuous review to assess identified treatment rates and as a result of recently completed research, the Highways Agency has been able to reduce its treatment rates helping to improve resilience through the current salt shortage.

Sarah Teather: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent steps he has taken to monitor the implementation by local authorities of their severe weather emergency procedures; and if he will make a statement. [311923]

Mr. Khan: Maintenance of the local highway network is a matter for local highway authorities; this includes the provision of regular winter service and response to other weather events. The Department for Transport has not recently reviewed authorities’ plans in these areas.

Last month, Departmental officials wrote to the chief executive of each local authority in England, encouraging them to consider whether their winter service strategies are up to date.

Through its endorsement of ‘Well-maintained Highways’, the UK Roads Liaison Group’s code of practice for highways maintenance management, the Department encourages local highway authorities to develop winter service strategies. The code of practice also provides guidance on responding to weather emergencies.

Wednesday 20 January 2010

Air Traffic Control
Graham Stringer: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what plans he has to reduce the Government stake in UK Air Traffic Control; and if he will make a statement. [312064]

Paul Clark [holding answer 19 January 2010]: On 8 December the Government published the Operational Efficiency Programme: Asset Portfolio.

The portfolio includes a section on NATS which notes that in light of the impending expiry of the restrictions on the transfer of shares for NATS, it is appropriate for Government to engage with other shareholders who are likely to consider the shareholding options available to them.

No decision has been made by Government with regard to reducing its shareholding. Any options considered would be required to best meet the needs of the Company and its workforce, as well as shareholders.

Roads: Accidents
Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many and what proportion of drivers involved in road traffic accidents did not have (a) insurance, (b) a valid MOT certificate and (c) a driver’s licence in each of the last three years. [311726]

Paul Clark: The information requested is not collected centrally.

In 2003 the Department for Transport published a research report on unlicensed driving which included an estimate for the number of personal injury road accidents that involved a driver found guilty of driving without a licence. The report is available at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/research/rsrr/theme2/researchintounlicensedreport.pdf

Roads: Snow and Ice
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what his most recent estimate is of the amount of salt held by local highway authorities in (a) the West Midlands and (b) Coventry. [311451]

Mr. Khan: According to local authority salt audit returns at 10 am on 14 January, both Coventry and the West Midlands region estimate that they have between six and seven days of salt stocks without replenishment, assuming the economies requested by the Secretary of State in his statement of 12 January are implemented.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what steps his Department is taking to ensure effective gritting of roads in the West Midlands. [311452]

Mr. Khan: Following close monitoring of the situation, the Department for Transport convened on 6 January, a joint working body (the Salt Cell) with representatives from central Government, local government and the devolved administrations to provide an agreed approach to road salt prioritisation. Data is now being regularly gathered on UK local authority and Highways Agency salt stocks and predicted use based on weather forecasts. With this regular flow of information, the Salt Cell currently meets twice weekly to decide what advice should be given to salt suppliers regarding the prioritisation of salt deliveries to local highways authorities and the Highways Agency. It therefore ensures the salt suppliers have the best possible advice from the information available about where salt is needed most. The Department has also re-circulated County Surveyors Society advice which included consideration about where and when to use grit only rather that salt.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what his most recent assessment is of the damage caused to roads and highways in the West Midlands as a result of cold weather; and what his estimate is of the cost of repairing such damage. [311453]

Mr. Khan: It will be for each local highway authority to assess the damage to its network resulting from the severe weather, and to estimate the costs of repair.

The Department for Transport will consider any requests for financial assistance that local authorities may make, in line with its established criteria; and it will provide engineering consultancy support to local authorities formulating bids. It will be for each bidding authority to demonstrate that the damage is exceptional.

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what guidance his Department issues to local authorities on responsibility for clearing pavements which are unsafe as a consequence of adverse weather conditions. [311587]

Mr. Khan [holding answer 18 January 2010]: Local highway authorities have a duty, under s41 of the Highways Act 1980, to maintain the roads in their charge, including footways. This duty specifically includes

“a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow or ice”.

The Department for Transport has not issued guidance on responsibility for clearing footways in adverse weather conditions, but it does endorse the UK Roads Liaison Group’s code of practice, “Well-maintained Highways” (available from the House Libraries, or from the following website which contains guidance on winter service:

www.ukroadsliaisongroup.org

Electric Vehicles: Motorcycles
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment his Department has made of the merits of providing support to producers of electric motorcycles and mopeds. [310927]

Mr. Khan: have been asked to reply.

Passenger cars are by some distance the biggest source of emissions from road transport, forming almost 60 per cent. of total UK domestic C02 transport emissions compared to less than 1 per cent. by motorcycles. As such, the focus of government support is on cars where it will have the biggest impact on greenhouse gas emissions from road transport. We recognise that electric motorcycles offer environmental benefits compared to conventional motorcycles and they are already zero rated for VED purposes and exempt from fuel duty. We anticipate that electric motorbikes will be able to access the re-charging infrastructure installed as part of the £30 million Plugged in Places framework.

Thursday 21 January 2010

Driving Offences: Chelmsford
Mr. Burns: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent estimate he has made of the number of 17 to 21 year olds using motor vehicles on the road network without insurance in (a) West Chelmsford constituency and (b) Chelmsford local authority area. [312479]

Paul Clark: No information is held on uninsured driving on a constituency or local authority area basis.

Road Traffic
Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many journeys and what percentage of miles were made by each type of vehicle on (a) motorways and (b) dual carriageways in the UK in each of the last three years. [312493]

Paul Clark: The Department for Transport does not hold data on the number of journeys made each year by type of vehicle on motorways or dual carriageways.

Traffic data on dual carriageways are not available for Northern Ireland. However, the percentage of miles driven by type of vehicle in Great Britain on motorways and dual carriageways in 2006, 2007 and 2008 is shown in the following table.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmhansrd/cm100121/text/100121w0001.htm#10012125000002

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what estimate he has made of the (a) percentage of UK-registered and (b) number of foreign-registered vehicles of each type which have used (i) motorways and (ii) dual carriageways in the last year. [312503]

Paul Clark: The Department for Transport does not hold data on either the percentage of vehicles that have used motorways or dual carriageways, or the number of foreign registered vehicles that have used motorways or dual carriageways.

Roads: Accidents
Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many and what proportion of drivers in each five-year age cohort were involved in a road traffic accident causing (a) death and (b) serious injury in each of the last three years for which figures are readily available. [311727]

Paul Clark: The information requested is shown in the following tables.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmhansrd/cm100121/text/100121w0002.htm

It is not possible to identify if the same driver was involved in more than one accident so there may be some double counting in the number of drivers involved in accidents. This does not take into account people that drive without a licence, driving licence holders that do not drive or those under 17 years of age.

Due to the small sample size used in the National Travel Survey some age groups are shown in age bands larger than five years in the second table.

Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many (a) adults and (b) children who were (i) killed and (ii) seriously injured in road accidents involving drivers who were under the influence of (A) drink, (B) drugs and (C) both drink and drugs in each of the last three years. [311866]

Paul Clark: The estimated number of (a) adults and (b) children who were (i) killed and (ii) seriously injured in reported drink drive accidents in each of the last three years with data available is shown in the following table:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmhansrd/cm100121/text/100121w0002.htm

The number of (a) adults and (b) children who were (i) killed and (ii) seriously injured in road accidents where “driver impaired by drugs (illicit or medicinal)” was reported as a contributory factor in each of the last three years with data available, and the number where a driver also had “impaired by alcohol” reported as a contributory factor, are shown in the following table:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmhansrd/cm100121/text/100121w0002.htm

Contributory factors reflect the police officer’s opinion at the time of reporting, and where some factors may have contributed to the cause of an accident it may be difficult for a police officer attending the scene after the accident to identify them, so these factors may be under-reported. Not all reported road accidents are included in the contributory factor analysis, only those where a police officer attended the scene and at least one contributory factor was reported.

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