PQs 14th – 16th November 2011

Invalid Vehicles: Accidents
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) deaths and (b) serious injuries involving powered (i) wheelchairs and (ii) mobility scooters have occurred on roads in each of the last three years. [80838]
Norman Baker: As road casualty statistics do not currently include mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs as a separate vehicle category, we have no central database of the number of vehicles involved in accidents, but we are aware of specific incidents. From 2013 the police will be able to record whether a mobility vehicle has been involved in an accident on the public highway.
In 2010 the Department initiated a survey to help assess the number of mobility scooter users and the extent to which their use may have injured people. I will be considering its conclusions as part of an overall review of the laws governing the use of mobility vehicles. The results of the survey can be viewed on the Department’s website at:
http://www2.dft.gov.uk/pgr/statistics/datatablespublications/trsnstatsatt/mobilityscooters.html
Invalid Vehicles: Eyesight
Mr Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether she plans to impose a minimum eyesight requirement on users of (a) powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters and (b) cyclists. [80596]
Norman Baker: As part of the Department for Transport’s review of the use of mobility vehicles, I have asked my officials to undertake further work with transport operators, the mobility vehicles industry and user groups on a range of issues, including a possible minimum eyesight requirement for mobility vehicle users and incentives for them to meet these requirements. No decision has been taken.
I would also refer the right hon. Member to my answer to the hon. Member for Bury South (Mr Lewis) of 26 October 2011, Official Report, column 249W, and my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Dorset and North Poole (Annette Brooke) of 27 October 2011, Official Report, column 284W, for further details on my recent announcement.
There are no plans to require cyclists to meet a minimum eyesight requirement.
A14: Suffolk
Dr Thérèse Coffey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when she expects all the information signs on the A14 in Suffolk to be brought into use. [78200]
Mike Penning: The A14 corridor traffic management scheme has installed 31 message signs within the county of Suffolk, 26 of which are available for use. Of the remaining five signs, two are programmed for commissioning to start on 24 November 2011. The remaining three signs are delayed due to wayleave disputes between Ipswich borough council and U.K Power Networks, which are preventing the provision of power supplies.
Biofuels
Bill Esterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment she has made of the safety of ethanol as an additive to fuel; and what assessment she has made of its effects on engines and engine components. [81308]
Norman Baker: Ethanol has a long history of use as a petrol fuel additive. Commercial grades of ethanol-petrol blends are reported to have been marketed in the UK from the 1920s to the 1960s. However it was not until 1988 that British Standards explicitly defined an upper limit (of 5%) on the ethanol content of petrol, in order to ensure compatibility of vehicle components and fuels. Any vehicles or products supplied for use in fuel systems since then should be compatible with this limit, 5% ethanol being the maximum that fuel suppliers currently use to meet their Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation targets (currently 4% rising to 5% in 2013-14). Pumps dispensing any petrol containing more than 5% ethanol are required by law to be labelled “Not suitable for all vehicles: consult vehicle manufacturer before use”.
At some point in the future biofuel uptake targets in the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation will need to be increased to meet our EU obligations. However, in view of the fact that the evidence base on biofuels is still developing, the Government have taken the view that it would be premature to increase the targets beyond the 2013-14 target of 5% at present. Nevertheless, it is likely that 10% ethanol blends will be marketed in the future and so the Department commissioned research on the compatibility of different ethanol blends on fuel systems and the risks of carburettor icing. This research is published on the Department’s website.
http://www.dft.gov.uk/publications/qinetiq-10-02471
The Government will work with fuel suppliers and vehicle manufacturers to ensure information is available to motorists on which vehicles are compatible with 10% ethanol before it is introduced on a widespread basis.
Caravans: Testing
David Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether she plans to require caravans to have an MOT; and if she will make a statement. [80950]
Mike Penning: No. There are no plans to introduce annual testing (MOTs) for towed caravans.
Cycling: Accidents
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps her Department is taking to reduce the number of road traffic accidents involving cyclists. [80830]
Mike Penning: I refer my hon. Friend to my answer of 10 October 2011, Official Report, column 110W. In addition, the Minister responsible for cycling policy, the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker), has recently established a cycling stakeholder forum which will, among other things, be looking into how best to tackle the issue of real and perceived danger of cycling.
Invalid Vehicles
Diana Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans she has to amend the specification of class 1, 2 and 3 invalid vehicles as defined by the Road Traffic Act 1988; and if she will make a statement. [81005]
Norman Baker: There are no plans to amend regulations relating to class 1 ‘invalid carriages’ (manual wheelchairs). As part of the Department for Transport’s review of the use of powered mobility vehicles, I have asked my officials to undertake further work with transport operators, the mobility vehicles industry and user groups on a range of issues relating to the use of class 2 and class 3 ‘invalid carriages’ (mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs).
I would also refer the hon. Member to my answer to the hon. Member for Bury South (Mr Lewis) of 26 October 2011, Official Report, column 249W, and my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Dorset and North Poole (Annette Brooke) of 27 October 2011, Official Report, column 284W, for further details on my recent announcement.
Invalid Vehicles: Eyesight
Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether she plans to bring forward proposals to impose a minimum standard eyesight requirement on users of powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters; and whether she has any plans to extend such a standard to cyclists. [81132]
Jim Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reasons her Department plans to implement a minimum eyesight requirement on users of powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters; and whether she has considered introducing such requirements for cyclists. [81211]
 
Norman Baker: As part of the Department for Transport’s review of the use of mobility vehicles, I have asked my officials to undertake further work with transport operators, the mobility vehicles industry and user groups on a range of issues, including a possible minimum eyesight requirement for mobility vehicle users and incentives for them to meet these requirements. No final decision has been taken.
I would also refer the hon. Members to my answers to the hon. Member for Bury South (Mr Lewis) of 26 October 2011, Official Report, column 249W, and to my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Dorset and North Poole (Annette Brooke) of 27 October 2011, Official Report, column 284W, and for further details on my recent announcement.
There are no plans to require cyclists to meet a minimum eyesight requirement.
Large Goods Vehicles
Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate she has made of the likely cost of the trial of longer semi-trailer heavy goods vehicles in each year of its operation. [81193]
 
Mike Penning: The Department published a revised Impact Assessment on 11 October which covers the estimated impact of the 10-year trial. The central case estimates that the likely annual cost to Government will be around £40,000. This covers the issuing of Vehicle Special Orders and independent monitoring of the trial.
Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the trial of longer semi-trailers for heavy goods vehicles will record the (a) proportion of empty-running vehicles and (b) fuel consumption of vehicles in relation to their load weight. [81196]
Mike Penning: The Department will be discussing the details of the data recording requirements with the independent monitoring body. However, the requirements will include data on fuel consumption and empty running.
Large Goods Vehicles: Accidents
Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how (a) accidents and (b) near-misses involving heavy goods vehicles taking part in the longer semi-trailer trial will be recorded. [81194]
 
Mike Penning: The Department will be discussing the detail of how these will be recorded with the independent monitoring body.
Motorways: Speed Limits
Jim Shannon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which (a) road safety groups and (b) other organisations will be consulted on proposals to increase the national speed limit to 80mph on motorways. [80232]
Mike Penning: We plan to hold a full public consultation on the proposals to increase the national speed limit on motorways in England and Wales. We will invite responses from a broad range of stakeholders and individuals.
Speed Limits
Steve Brine: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what (a) statutory and (b) advisory guidance her Department issues to local authorities on the creation of new 30 mph speed limits. [79837]
Mike Penning: Local authorities are provided with advisory departmental guidance on setting local speed limits (DFT Circular 01/2006), which was published on 8 August 2006. The Strategic Road Safety Framework of May 2011 indicated that the Department will revise and reissue this guidance with the aim of increasing flexibility for local authorities. Alongside the revised guide there will be an economic tool for local authorities to assess the full costs and benefits of any changes to speed limits.
Local authorities have a duty under section 85 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to erect and maintain speed limit signs that are either prescribed in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 (TSRGD) or authorised by the Secretary of State for Transport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Justine Greening), on roads that they are responsible for. The Department is responsible for TSRGD and has published guidance on the use of speed signs in Chapter 3 of the Traffic Signs Manual.
These documents can be viewed on the Department’s website but it is for traffic authorities to decide how to carry out their statutory duty.
 
Transport: Infrastructure
 
Mr Buckland: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps her Department is taking to monitor transport infrastructure needs in relation to trends in the population to 2050 projected by the Office for National Statistics. [79944]
Mike Penning: The Department identifies potential needs for transport infrastructure using a wide range of evidence sources. This includes transport models which combine our statistics on travel behaviour with long-term projections, including population from the Office for National Statistics, to forecast travel demand.
The Department also collects and publishes a range of official statistics that track changes in people’s travel behaviour and their use of transport infrastructure. Most of these statistics are summarised in “Transport Statistics, Great Britain”, the Department’s main annual statistical compendium publication.
National Policy Statements (NPS) set out the Government’s assessment of the need for different types of infrastructure, including in relation to trends in population. The Department intends shortly to designate an NPS for ports and to launch a consultation on a draft NPS for national road and rail networks.
The Department is also in the process of developing a strategy for a sustainable future for aviation, providing a framework which supports economic growth and addresses aviation’s environmental impacts.
Driving: Disqualification
Questions
Asked by Lord Bradshaw
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 27 October (WA 175-6), in the light of more sophisticated means of detecting the use of vehicles which are not insured through the increased use of police vehicles equipped with automatic number plate recognition equipment, to what they attribute the fall in numbers of convictions.[HL12954]
Earl Attlee: Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) identifies uninsured vehicles but these are not necessarily driven by disqualified drivers. There has been a significant fall in uninsured driving due to a combination of ANPR, police activity, the seizure of uninsured vehicles and continuous insurance enforcement (CIE). The changes to the number of those convicted of driving while disqualified will be the result of changes in police enforcement activity and potentially a reduction in the number of disqualified drivers continuing to drive due to better enforcement.
Driving: Licences
Question
Asked by Lord Bradshaw
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many people held United Kingdom driving licences in 2008, 2009 and 2010; and of these in each year (a) how many had 12 points, (b) how many were disqualified during that year, (c) how many appeals were made against disqualification, (d) how many appeals were upheld and for what reasons, (e) how many had more than 12 points, (f) how many requests there were to reduce the period of disqualification, and (g) how many requests were granted.[HL12620]
Earl Attlee: The information requested is not available. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has responsibility only for maintaining the driver records for Great Britain. Although its records show the total number of driver records held for financial years 2008, 2009 and 2010 it does not give a breakdown of how many of these were licensed or unlicensed (eg disqualified, licence expired, etc.) The relevant figures are:
2008-09  –  43.5 million;
2009-10  –  43.9 million; and
2010-11  –  44.2 million
The additional information requested is not available. The Ministry of Justice does not hold information centrally on the number of appeals received against disqualification from driving, the subsequent appeal outcomes and their reasons. The requested information could be obtained only through the manual identification and inspection of individual case files held by the courts at disproportionate cost.
Transport: MoT Scheme
Questions
Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the contribution of MoT tests for motor vehicles to road safety.[HL12876]
To ask Her Majesty’s Government which organisations they consulted regarding their proposals to require biennial, rather than annual, MoT tests for motor vehicles more than three years old. [HL12877]
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the number of potential job losses as a consequence of their proposals to require biennial, rather than annual, MoT tests for motor vehicles more than three years old.[HL12878]
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the likelihood of a rise in insurance premiums as a result of their proposals to require biennial, rather than annual, MoT tests for motor vehicles more than three years old.[HL12879]
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to raise the age at which a vehicle first requires an MoT certificate from three to four years. [HL12880]
Earl Attlee: The Government intend to review the MoT test scheme. We have no preconceptions about the outcome of a review; the aim will be to strike the right balance between vehicle safety and the burden imposed on motorists by MoT test requirements.
We will carry out a full consultation to allow interested groups to submit views and give evidence, which will be announced in due course.
Asked by Lord Berkeley
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what estimates they have made of the number of deaths and serious injuries that would occur if the current frequency of MoT tests was decreased so that the first test takes place after four years, and subsequent tests every two years.[HL13109]
Earl Attlee: In April 2011 the Department for Transport published the results of independent research commissioned to examine how vehicle defects affect accident rates, and to consider the potential road safety impact of changing the frequency of the MoT. The Effect of Vehicle Defects in Road Accidents report can be found at: http://www.trl.co.uk/online_store/reports_publications/trl_reports/cat_road_user_ safety/report_effect_of_vehicle_defects_in_road_ accidents.htm.
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