PQs 12th – 15th Sept 2011

Transport Questions Thursday the 15th September
Rail Travel
3. Simon Hart (Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire) (Con): What assessment he has made of recent trends in levels of rail travel. [71830]
The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Philip Hammond): Annual statistics for the year ending March 2011 published by the Office of Rail Regulation show that passenger travel rose during the year to reach an overall, all-time high of 33.6 billion passenger miles. The number of rail journeys has been rising steadily each year since privatisation with only one slight drop in the total during 2009. Since then the upward trend has resumed to reach a total of 1.4 billion journeys undertaken. Long-distance rail travel has nearly doubled since privatisation.
Heavy Goods Vehicles
4. Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab/Co-op): What assessment he has made of the potential road safety implications of increasing the maximum length of heavy goods vehicles. [71831]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mike Penning): In March I published a feasibility study and impact assessment on longer semi-trailers, undertaken by consultants including the Transport Research Laboratory. The research, which is available in the Library, includes consideration of the potential road safety implications.
Mark Lazarowicz: Many streets in my constituency are already unsuitable for long heavy goods vehicles, and the thought of even longer vehicles trying to get down narrow city streets will horrify many people. As the Minister knows, blanket lorry bans are not possible in many urban areas, for all sorts of reasons. May I urge him to think again, and to reject the proposal to allow even longer lorries on to totally unsuitable streets in urban and rural areas?
Mike Penning: I understand the hon. Gentleman’s concern, but he should note that because the turning wheels of longer semi-trailers are at the back, their turning circles are much tighter than those of existing lorries. I know that because I used to drive heavy goods vehicles myself. However, I will look into the points made by the hon. Gentleman, and we will announce our proposals when the House reconvenes next month. Then at least the industry will know exactly where we are going.
Dr Andrew Murrison (South West Wiltshire) (Con): Has the Minister considered the environmental impact of very long vehicles, particularly in relation to small rural roads, and the safety implications for pedestrians and cyclists of elongated public service vehicles in the form of articulated buses?
Mike Penning: We have indeed considered the environmental impact of longer semi-trailers, and have concluded that there will be less pollution in the community. There will be fewer lorries, because the longer lorries will be able to carry more cargo than be carried now. We considered carefully whether longer semi-trailers posed a risk to cyclists in particular, and the risk is not there.
Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse) (Lab): I know that the Minister is in some pain this morning owing to a tooth abscess, and I do not want to add to his discomfort, but people—motorists, cyclists and pedestrians—are frightened by heavy goods vehicles, and longer vehicles will cause even greater anxiety. Given the 40% cut in road safety funding and the results of the Department’s own consultation, which suggest that the number of casualties may be marginally higher if longer vehicles are introduced, will the Minister ensure that the road safety element features highly in his consideration? Surely it must be at the top of his agenda.
Mike Penning: It is very kind of my shadow opponent to worry about my abscess, but I promise him that the NHS dentist will look after it for me.
We will carefully consider the road safety implications of longer semi-trailers, but we must sweat our assets better on the roads. We are not going to introduce heavier weights, and we are not going to introduce the mega-trucks whose introduction has been proposed to us. We will look carefully at the length of trailers to ensure that more products can be taken around the country with the same weight, the same fuel and fewer emissions.
Miss Anne McIntosh (Thirsk and Malton) (Con): Surely the best way of improving road safety is to put all transport on to rail, but will my hon. Friend tell me how safety can be improved on roads such as the A64? What specific plans does he have in that regard?
Mike Penning: I shall have to write to my hon. Friend about the A64. As for moving more transport on to rail, the industry rightly says that trains often take goods to the rail hubs, and trucks—which will now be the longer semi-trailers—take them from there to the distribution centres and supermarkets. When the longer vehicles are introduced, there will be fewer traffic problems, fewer lorries and more rail transport, which is what we want.
Cycling
8. Chris Skidmore (Kingswood) (Con): What recent steps he has taken to encourage cycling. [71836]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Norman Baker): The Government are strongly in favour of cycling, as we said in our coalition agreement. On 5 July, I announced the allocation of £155.5 million to 37 authorities to deliver packages of measures that support economic growth and cut carbon emissions, as part of the £560 million local sustainable transport fund—many of these include cycling. I will announce the remaining allocations in summer 2012. In addition, I have established a cycling forum, which met for the first time this week. We want to get more people cycling, more safely, more often.
Chris Skidmore: The Minister will undoubtedly be aware of the huge success that cycling city status has brought south Gloucestershire. Could he now seriously consider the North Fringe to Hengrove major scheme bid that his Department has received recently? The scheme will further enhance cycling provision and will boost economic growth.
Norman Baker: I agree that the initiatives in south Gloucestershire have been successful, and I congratulate my hon. Friend on his inventiveness and ingenuity in including that question under this heading. He will understand that the project he mentions is subject to assessment under the development pool arrangements. A decision will be made later this year, but his support for the scheme is noted.
Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab): CTC reports that the biggest deterrent to cycling is fear of busy roads. What are the Government doing to improve driver training and put more emphasis on cyclists’ needs? How can the Minister ensure that dangerous or intimidating driving is made as unacceptable as drink driving?
Norman Baker: Dangerous and intimidating driving is already subject to police enforcement, but we are taking steps to ensure that drivers are aware of cyclists on the road. A Trixi mirror pilot has been approved for London, and it is now in place and showing good results. The Under-Secretary with responsibility for road safety is very aware of this issue and is looking at driving training for HGV drivers in particular.
Written Answers from the week 12th – 15th September 2011
Driving: Sleep Apnoea
Joseph Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will meet Ms Carol Upcraft to discuss her campaign to raise awareness about the contribution of sleep apnoea to road accidents. [70328]
Mike Penning: The Department is committed to raising awareness of obstructive sleep apnoea and driving. I would be happy to meet with the hon. Member and his constituent, Ms Carol Upcraft, to discuss her campaign.
Joseph Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate his Department has made of the number of road accidents where sleep apnoea was attributed as a cause in the last three years. [70379]
Mike Penning: Information on the number of injuries resulting from reported road accidents caused by drivers with specific medical conditions is not collected.
The number of injury road accidents in Great Britain for which a police officer attended the scene and recorded the contributory factor ‘Fatigue’ was 1,812 in 2008, 1,806 in 2009 and 1,766 in 2010.
The contributory factor ‘Fatigue’ is recorded in accidents in which the police officer’s opinion at the time of reporting was that the driver/rider was unable to drive effectively or perceive hazards due to being too tired. This may or may not be due to a specific medical condition.
Large Goods Vehicles: Sleep Apnoea
Joseph Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to raise awareness within the road haulage industry of the risks associated with undiagnosed sleep apnoea. [70327]
Mike Penning: The Department is committed to identifying opportunities to raise awareness of obstructive sleep apnoea. A number of initiatives are ongoing with commercial drivers including questioning them directly about it as part of their compulsory medicals for driver licensing purposes and sending our ‘Tiredness Can Kill’ leaflet to raise awareness of the condition with them and their employers.
Roads: Accidents
Joseph Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information his Department holds on the causes of road accidents. [70326]
Mike Penning: It is not possible to identify the cause of reported personal injury road accidents from data collected through STATS19. However, Department for Transport collects statistics on contributory factors to accidents reported by the attending police officer.
Information on reported contributory factors to road accidents, for Great Britain in 2009, can be found in Table 4a of Article 4 (‘Contributory factors to reported road accidents’) in our annual report, ‘Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: 2009’. A copy has been placed in the Libraries of the House, and it can also be found using the following link:
http://www2.dft.gov.uk/pgr/statistics/datatablespublications/accidents/casualtiesgbar/rrcgb2009.html
The contributory factor article for reported accidents in Great Britain in 2010 will be published at the end of September 2011.
Please note that contributory factors are reported only for injury road accidents where a police officer attended the scene and reported at least one contributory factor. These factors are largely subjective, reflecting the attending officer’s opinion at the time of reporting. It is recognised that subsequent inquires could lead to the reporting officer changing his/her opinion.
It is important to note that it may be difficult for a police officer, attending the scene after an accident has occurred, to identify certain factors that may have contributed to a cause of an accident.
Aviation
Julian Sturdy: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of changes proposed by the EU to flight time limitations. [71001]
Mrs Villiers: The European Aviation Safety Agency consulted on draft implementing rules on flight time limitations earlier this year. The Civil Aviation Authority considers that the proposed requirements have many positive aspects but it has indentified three issues which need to be addressed before we could accept the proposals. We have made these points in our response to the consultation. EASA are in the process of reviewing the responses to consultation and will be issuing an amended proposal in due course.
Driving: Offences
Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will bring forward proposals to make it a driving offence for a motorist to interrupt the line of vehicles included in a funeral cortege; and if he will make a statement. [70273]
Mike Penning: We have no current plans for a new specific driving offence related to the interruption of a line of vehicles within a funeral cortege.
Existing offences, for example related to careless and inconsiderate driving, are relevant to so-called ‘road rage’ and other aggressive driving in the vicinity of funeral corteges. An additional specific offence would be unlikely to assist penalising the worst examples of poor driving behaviour.
We are progressing plans to enable the police to enforce against careless and inconsiderate driving more efficiently.
Driving: Standards
Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he will confirm the level of funding from the public purse for the 2011 Smarter Driving Programme. [68617]
Norman Baker: The Department for Transport will provide up to £420,000 of funding in 2011-12 for this programme. Government funding will be matched by broadly equivalent funding paid by the businesses taking part in the programme.
Bus Services: Concessions
Rachel Reeves: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will estimate the number of people aged 60 and over in the Leeds West constituency who are eligible for the concessionary coach travel scheme. [71690]
Norman Baker: Data relating to the number of people aged 60 years and older who are eligible for the concessionary coach travel scheme are not available at a constituency level.
Rachel Reeves: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will estimate the number of people affected by the removal of the concessionary coach travel scheme. [71691]
Norman Baker: According to mid-2010 population estimates from the Office for National Statistics, there were 11,746,500 people aged 60 years and older who were eligible for the concessionary coach travel scheme in England.
The Department does not hold information on the number of people with a disability who are eligible for the concessionary coach travel scheme in England.
Bus Services: GPS
Angela Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information his Department holds on which Passenger Transport Executives have bus fleets which (a) are fitted and (b) they plan to fit with global positioning system tracking systems. [70099]
Norman Baker: The Department for Transport does not collect information from Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs) on whether the bus operators serving their areas are using buses or plan to use buses fitted with global positioning systems (GPS). The Department does publish statistics on the percentage of buses fitted with automatic vehicle location equipment (AVL), including GPS, which is collected through its annual public service vehicle survey of operators. This includes a figure for the English metropolitan areas (the six English PTEs). In 2009-10 53% of buses operating in the English metropolitan areas were fitted with AVL equipment. This is available on the Department’s website at:
http://assets.dft.gov.uk/statistics/tables/bus0606.xls
Caravans: Accidents
Mr Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on accidents related to the road worthiness of caravans; [71728]
(2) what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the road worthiness of (i) type 1 and (ii) type 2 trailers. [71729]
Mike Penning: Research has been commissioned to determine the relevance of roadworthiness defects in accidents involving light trailers, included caravans, with an unladen weight not exceeding 1,020 kg that are drawn by a motor vehicle. The research will be evaluated and published once complete.
Cars: Tyres
Simon Hart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has any plans to extend the MOT test to cover spare tyres. [70693]
Mike Penning: I have no plans to extend the MOT test to include examination of spare tyres. I do intend to review the MOT test more broadly and expect to be in a position to clarify scope and timing of the review in the autumn.
Cycling: Children
Mr Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to encourage children to (a) walk and (b) cycle to school; and if he will make a statement. [70727]
Norman Baker: The Government are taking steps to encourage children to walk and cycle to school. In January we announced the Local Sustainable Transport Fund. The Fund will make £560 million available to local authorities to help build strong local economies and address at a local level the urgent challenges of climate change, delivering cleaner environments, improving safety, and increasing physical activity. Many local authorities that were successful in bidding to the Fund in the first tranche have included school-based initiatives in their plans.
Furthermore, in 2011-12 the Fund has supported national projects including walk to school initiatives, walking and cycling links to schools and “Bike It” officers.
The Government have also committed to support Bikeability cycle training for the remainder of this Parliament. £11 million in grant funding has been made available in 2011-12, which will provide the opportunity for around 275,000 children to receive training at school.
Driving: Eyesight
Meg Munn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the replacement of the number-plate test for drivers with a comprehensive eye test by a qualified medical practitioner (a) when taking an initial driving test, (b) for drivers at age 70 and (c) for all drivers at 10 year intervals. [68249]
Mike Penning: The Government are committed to reducing the regulatory burden on business and the public, and has no plans to commission research on replacing the existing number plate test with a more expensive compulsory eye-test.
Driving: Licensing
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will review the policy of a driving licence holder undertaking a self-assessment to inform the potential suspension of a licence on medical grounds by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency; and if he will make a statement. [70901]
Mike Penning: There are no plans to review the current policy of self-notification by drivers of medical conditions that may affect their ability to drive safely.
Introducing a system of independent medical assessments by doctors for all driving licence applicants would cause great inconvenience and expense and is unnecessary. The current self-notification requirement strikes the right balance between road safety and the need for personal mobility.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average time taken by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is, once informed of concerns on medical grounds, of a driver’s fitness to drive, to complete an investigation and, where appropriate, revoke the driver’s licence; and if he will make a statement. [70902]
Mike Penning: The average time taken to complete a medical investigation into a driver’s fitness to drive following a third party notification is not recorded. The agency’s published service standards state that where medical inquires are needed, the agency will aim to make a decision in 85% of cases within 90 working days.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps are taken by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to enforce the self-assessment of drivers who, on medical grounds, may be considered unfit to drive; whether third parties may make representations to the DVLA to investigate such drivers; whether medical professionals and the police have an obligation to report their concerns to the DVLA; and if he will make a statement. [70903]
Mike Penning: It is a criminal offence to fail to notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) of a medical condition that may affect safe driving. DVLA makes information about the medical standards needed for driver licensing available on the application form, on information leaflets and also on the Internet to enable drivers to make an informed self-declaration.
The DVLA will accept third party notifications. These are often made by relatives, neighbours and health care professionals. Although there is no legal requirement for the police and medical professionals to make such notifications, guidelines issued by the General Medical Council and the College of Optometrists recommend reporting to DVLA if advice from a doctor or optometrist to stop driving has been ignored.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average length of time was between a driver suspended from driving to receiving a notice of the revocation of their licence from the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [70910]
Mike Penning: The average time taken between a decision being made to revoke a driving licence following a third party notification and the driver receiving that notification is not held. From when the notification is prepared and sent, a four-day postal delivery period is included to ensure the driver is aware of the revocation before it becomes effective.
M1: Road Traffic
Mr Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what further steps he plans to take to reduce congestion northbound between junctions 27 and 28 on the M1 motorway at rush hour times; and if he will make a statement. [71302]
Mike Penning: The congestion northbound is due to the transition from the four lane section to a three lane section at junction 28. There is also additional traffic that joins the northbound M1 from the A38.
Recent Improvements
M1 Junction 27 to 28 forms part of the section that was widened in May 2010. This comprises a section of controlled motorway designed to reduce congestion. It uses variable mandatory speed limits to help manage traffic flows at peak times or following an incident. It is a component of managed motorways, which uses a range of innovative technology combined with new operating procedures to actively control traffic flow. Techniques such as varying the speed limits, opening up the hard shoulder to traffic or limiting access to the motorway from slip roads when needed are all measures of managed motorways designed to reduce congestion.
 
Future Improvements
M1 J28 to 31 Managed Motorway scheme is currently in the preliminary design phase, which will be completed by summer 2012. This scheme is prioritised as one of the fourteen schemes which is to proceed into construction before April 2015. The project will increase the capacity of the M1 Junction 28 to 31, by making the existing hard shoulder suitable for use as a running lane and introducing managed motorway technology.
Motor Vehicles: Insurance
Jim McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking in respect of the cost of insurance premiums for motorists. [71045]
Mike Penning: The Government are concerned about the rising cost of motor insurance and are taking a number of steps to mitigate this including:
The Ministry of Justice are taking forward fundamental reform to no win no fee conditional fee agreements, which will make the costs of defending personal injury claims more proportionate. These reforms are included in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, currently before Parliament.
The Government will ban referral fees in personal injury cases.
Reduce uninsured driving by the recent introduction of a new offence of keeping a vehicle without insurance, known as the continuous insurance enforcement scheme.
Tackling fraud by; (a) from 2012 a specialist insurance fraud police unit will be established; and (b) looking to allow insurers access to the DVLA driver record to prevent situations where drivers who have given inaccurate information when taking out insurance being only detected when they make a claim, which can then be refused.
The Government are taking a number of steps as set out in the Road Safety Strategy published on 11 May such as; the introduction of fixed penalty notices for careless driving, tougher enforcement for drink and drug driving, better information for the public and professionals, more remedial education and improvements in training and testing.
 
Roads: Accidents
Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many road users excluding cyclists have been (a) killed or (b) injured in (i) Pendle constituency, (ii) Lancashire and (iii) nationwide in road traffic accidents involving cyclists in each of the last five years; [71770]
(2) how many cyclists have been (a) killed or (b) injured as a result of road traffic accidents in each of the last five years. [71771]
Mike Penning: The number of reported road casualties, excluding pedal cyclists, (a) killed or (b) seriously or slightly injured, resulting from reported personal injury road accidents involving pedal cyclists is shown in Table 1, for the years 2006-10 and for the areas requested.
The number of reported pedal cyclists (a) killed or (b) seriously or slightly injured, as a result of reported personal injury road accidents in Great Britain is shown in Table 2, for the years 2006-10.

Table 1: Reported road casualties, excluding pedal cyclists, resulting from reported personal injury road accidents involving pedal cyclists, by injury severity and area, 2006-10
Number of casualties
Killed Seriously or slightly injured
Accident year Pendle (1) Lancashire (2) GB Pendle (1) Lancashire (2) GB

2006

0

0

4

0

13

505

2007

0

0

2

0

14

502

2008

0

0

0

1

29

436

2009

0

0

2

0

12

497

2010

0

0

2

1

13

469

(1) Parliamentary constituency of Pendle, based on 2010 constituency boundary. (2) Includes Blackburn and Blackpool unitary authorities.
Table 2: Reported pedal cyclist casualties, by injury severity, GB: 2006-10
Number of casualties
Accident year Killed Seriously or slightly injured All pedal cyclist casualties

2006

146

16,050

16,196

2007

136

16,059

16,195

2008

115

16,182

16,297

2009

104

16,960

17,064

2010

111

17,074

17,185

Travel: Accidents
Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) fatal and (b) serious travel-related accidents there have been in (i) the City of York and (ii) Yorkshire and the Humber in each year since 1996-97. [71504]
Mike Penning: The number of (a) fatal and (b) serious road accidents reported to the police, in (i) York unitary authority and (ii) the former Government office region of Yorkshire and the Humber, is given in the following table:

Number of personal injury road accidents
(i) York unitary authority (ii) Yorkshire and the Humber (1)
(a) Fatal (b) Serious (a) Fatal (b) Serious

1996(2)

3

59

292

3,220

1997

7

111

295

3,175

1998

4

70

286

3,001

1999

8

106

285

2,922

2000

12

73

288

2,800

2001

6

108

299

2,858

2002

8

103

294

2,893

2003

8

70

296

2,808

2004

7

94

288

2,709

2005

9

71

276

2,507

2006

6

114

278

2,538

2007

4

77

254

2,579

2008

9

71

203

2,362

2009

4

51

189

2,094

2010

4

56

161

1,965

(1) The former Government office region of Yorkshire and the Humber (2) In April 1996 the city of York local authority became a unitary authority and increased in size.
The Department does not hold any railway and air accident information broken down for the City of York and the Yorkshire and Humber region.
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