PQs 5th – 9th September

Electric Vehicles: Visual Impairment
Mr Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what (a) meetings and (b) representations (i) he and (ii) Ministers in his Department have had with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association on the audibility of (A) electric and (B) hybrid vehicles. [71208]
Norman Baker: Departmental officials have had some correspondence with Guide Dogs for the Blind Association to inform them of the start and publication of research the Department had commissioned on audibility and accident risk of hybrid and electric vehicles. Guide Dogs for the Blind also provided the Department with guidelines they had developed for artificial sound for hybrid and electric vehicles.
I have recently received a request from Richard Leaman, chief executive of Guide Dogs for the Blind for a meeting to discuss the results of research conducted by TRL on this issue and will be responding shortly.
PACTS comments: The commissioned research Mr Baker refers to is available online here. It found that electric vehicles pose a potential risk to visually impaired pedestrians, particularly in urban areas where background noise may make it difficult to hear the vehicles. Additionally, vehicles travelling at a slower speed are harder to hear, as tyre/road noise is not the dominant noise source. Therefore when developing artificial sound for the vehicles, it will be important to consider the road environment. 
Driving Offences
Gordon Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many drivers of non-UK registered vehicles were discovered driving in the UK beyond the allowed six-month period in (a) 2004, (b) 2005, (c) 2006, (d) 2007, (e) 2008, (f) 2009 and (g) 2010; and what steps his Department takes with respect to such drivers upon discovery. [68132]
Mike Penning: Between 2006 and 2011, 1,749 non-UK registered vehicles have been clamped for being in the UK for over six months without re-registering. The figures are not broken down on an annual basis.
If there is evidence that a foreign vehicle is in breach of the law, it can be clamped and impounded. In addition to enforcement action, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency operate a strategy of education and awareness to tackle non-compliant unlicensed foreign vehicles. This approach has included presentations to community leaders, articles in the media, the issue of information leaflets and warning notices placed on vehicles’ windscreens.
Gordon Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department takes to ensure that drivers of non-UK registered vehicles have appropriate motor insurance when driving in the UK. [68135]
Mike Penning: All drivers using roads in the UK must have at least third party insurance covering the use of their vehicle in this country. Under EU law all insurance policies issued in any EU member state must include the use of that vehicle for minimum third party risks for temporary visits to all EU member states.
Drivers must be able to produce evidence that they have the necessary insurance cover in place on request from the police.
Gordon Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department takes to identify drivers of non-UK registered vehicles who continue to drive in the UK beyond the allowed six-month period. [68136]
Mike Penning: There is no central database of non-UK registered vehicles; the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) rely on road sighting reported to them from the police, traffic enforcement officials and members of the public and it records details of sightings of foreign vehicles to assist in estimating the time a vehicle has been present in the UK. If there is evidence that a foreign vehicle is in breach of the law, it can be clamped and impounded.
The DVLA operate a strategy of education, warning as well as direct enforcement action to help tackle non-compliant unlicensed foreign vehicles. This approach has included presentations to community leaders, articles in the media, the issue of information leaflets and warning notices placed on vehicles’ windscreens.
Driving Tests: Older People
Yasmin Qureshi: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consideration the Government has given to measures to ensure that drivers over the age of 70 are fit to drive a motor vehicle in the last 10 years. [69114]
Mike Penning: The Strategic Framework for Road Safety, published on 11 May 2011, considers the issue of older drivers continuing to drive. It makes clear that we do not believe that mandatory re-testing is the best way forward. We favour an approach which helps older drivers to maintain and adapt their skills, including providing advice and support on when to reduce or stop driving and change to other methods of travel to maintain mobility. The framework includes a number of examples of education schemes for older drivers provided by local authorities and the training industry. We are looking to work with the voluntary sector and the training industry to develop further training schemes for older drivers.
Driving: Eyesight
Meg Munn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the number plate test for drivers meets the requirements of the EC Directive on Driving Licences 2009/113/EC which includes a recommendation for a visual field of at least 120 degrees. [68250]
Mike Penning: The number plate test is not intended or used to test the visual field. Optician based eyesight tests are used to ensure that those who have an underlying eye condition affecting the visual field are able to meet the appropriate standard.
Meg Munn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what data his Department has on the number of drivers on UK roads with eyesight that does not meet minimum standards required for safety. [68258]
Mike Penning: The Department does not hold data relating to the number of drivers on UK roads with eyesight that does not meet minimum standards.
Meg Munn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what evidence he has on the effects of the number plate test for driver’s eyesight on the road casualty incidence. [68259]
Mike Penning: No evidence is held.
Driving: Stop and Search
Gordon Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of drivers of non-UK registered vehicles who were stopped by the police on suspicion of committing a crime were found to have adequate motor insurance in each year from 2004. [68131]
Mike Penning: We do not hold the information.
All drivers using roads in the UK must have at least third party insurance covering the use of their vehicle in this country and be able to produce evidence that they have the necessary insurance cover in place on request from the police.
 
Cycling: Accidents
Nicola Blackwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many pedestrian (a) injuries and (b) fatalities have resulted from collisions with cyclists in each year since 2003. [68458]
Mike Penning: The information requested is given in the following table:

 

Reported number of pedestrian casualties in accidents involving pedal cycles in Great Britain: 2003-10
Number of casualties
Killed Injured (1)

2003

4

255

2004

1

235

2005

3

276

2006

3

223

2007

4

225

2008

1

260

2009

0

292

2010

4

337

(1) Seriously and slightly injured

 

 
Motorways: Speed Limits
Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what analysis his Department has conducted on the potential effects on the level of (a) fatalities, (b) serious casualties and (c) slight casualties of an increase in motorway speed limits to 80 mph. [69357]
Mike Penning: The Department is conducting analysis of the effects of a change in the motorway speed limit but we do not yet have the results that show what the impact on casualties would be.
Driving: Age
Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the potential effects of the application of provisions of the Equality Act 2010 relating to age discrimination to car rental companies on his Department’s road safety strategy. [70645]
Mike Penning: The Government are currently considering the responses to the age discrimination consultation which finished on 25 May 2011, before making a decision on the policy, which will be conveyed in the Government’s published response to the consultation.
We have thought carefully about whether the different road safety risk faced by older and younger drivers might justify a blanket exception. While these groups clearly do have different risk profiles from other drivers, a blanket exception would be an excessively blunt instrument, and inconsistent with what the Equality Act is trying to achieve. Under the exemption planned for financial services, firms will be able to reflect in their prices the link between age, risk and insurance costs.
In addition, and irrespective of what is finally decided on any exception, it will be still open to firms to justify objectively any restrictions they may wish to place on who may rent their cars. For example, a firm might require a minimum level of driving experience of those renting vehicles This would be consistent with the road safety evidence which suggests that it is experience, rather than just age, which is a key determinant of road safety risk. We believe such a practice is likely to meet the objective justification test if challenged as indirect age discrimination.
Driving: Licensing
Graeme Morrice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when his Department plans to publish its response to the consultation on proposals to amend driving licence standards for vision, diabetes and epilepsy. [71012]
Mike Penning: Responses to the proposed changes for vision and epilepsy are being analysed now with further input being sought from some of those who have responded. Final decisions have not yet been taken and a date for implementation or publication of responses has not been set. However, we do intend to introduce changes to the law in October to allow drivers with insulin treated diabetes to apply for a licence to drive larger lorries and buses.
Graeme Morrice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with (a) the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and (b) Diabetes UK on proposals to amend driving licence standards for people with diabetes. [71013]
Mike Penning: I have held discussions with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) but I have not met with Diabetes UK about the proposal to amend driving licence standards for people with diabetes. I am aware that officials from the DVLA have held discussions with Diabetes UK. Diabetes UK has also submitted written comments as part of the recent public consultation exercise. I plan to introduce legislation in October that will permit drivers with insulin treated diabetes to be considered for driving entitlement to buses and lorries.
Large Goods Vehicles
Dr Francis: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment he has made of the (a) public health, (b) safety and (c) environmental effects of increasing the length of lorries; and if he will make a statement. [70689]
Mike Penning: The public health, safety and environmental effects of increasing the length of lorries were set out in the Impact Assessment and supporting research published alongside the consultation document. Further evidence provided in responses to the consultation is being reviewed.
Dr Francis: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent consultations he has undertaken to ensure that his Department’s proposals for longer lorries takes account of the views of (a) cyclists, (b) motoring organisations, (c) local government and (d) the rail industry; and if he will make a statement. [70690]
Mike Penning: The Government’s consultation on whether to allow an increase in the length of articulated lorries was widely circulated to interested parties including cycling bodies, motoring organisations, local government bodies (the Local Government Association and the and Welsh Local Government Association) and the Rail Freight Group and rail freight operators.
In support of the consultation, the Department also offered to meet key bodies potentially affected by the proposals. Invitations were sent to the Freight Transport Association (FTA), the Road Haulage Association (RHA), the Rail Freight Group, Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT), Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation (CIHT), Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), Road Safety GB, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), the AA, Campaign for Better Transport, Freight on Rail, SUSTRANS, CTC, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, Friends of the Earth, the London Cycling Campaign (LCC), British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF), and Motorcycle Action Group UK (MAG).
The following organisations accepted the offer and met officials to discuss the proposals: FTA, RHA, the Rail Freight Group, CIHT, Campaign for Better Transport, Freight on Rail, CTC, LCC, BMF, MAG and Cambridge Cycling Campaign.
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