PQs 31st Oct – 3rd Nov 2011

Large Goods Vehicles
 
Alun Cairns: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the status is of her Department’s proposed increase in maximum trailer size for articulated heavy goods vehicles; and what assessment she has made of the potential effects of the increase on (a) levels of cyclists’ safety and (b) the environment. [74179]
Mike Penning: The Government have just published their response to the consultation on the use of longer semi-trailers, including a revised impact assessment which takes account of additional information provided in the course of the consultation. This is available on:
http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/dft-2011-06
The impact assessment covers both environmental impact and safety, but does not disaggregate the safety risk between different categories of road user.
Motorways
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the effect on motorway congestion in area 10 of the network of a reduction in the managing agent’s contractual funding. [73855]
Mike Penning: The Highways Agency is looking to meet its spending review 2010 settlement using a new outcome-based specification with service providers. An overarching requirement is for the service providers to ensure the expeditious movement of traffic to ensure that these changes do not increase motorway congestion.
Motorways: Accidents
 
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate she has made of the cost to the economy of time taken to clear accidents from motorways after the reduction in the incident support unit service. [73826]
Mike Penning: The Highways Agency has moved to an outcome based specification which allows its service providers to innovate and choose how best to deal with clearing the accident. As part of the new outcome based specifications, performance measures are based around incident clearance times rather than incident response by the incident support unit service, bringing estimated cashable savings of £11 million per annum. There are specified clearance times for reopening the motorway and it is expected that the new specifications will bring improved incident clear up times and economic benefits by focusing the service providers on swift incident resolution.
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of incident support units in reducing delays and congestion on motorways; and if she will make a statement. [73853]
Mike Penning: The Highways Agency has reviewed the effectiveness of incident support units and established that the existing service is not providing value for money in the current economic climate. In the future it will target motorways that suffer from delay and use the most appropriate vehicles and equipment to clear accidents.
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the effect on the safety of Highways Agency traffic officers of reducing incident support unit services; and if she will make a statement. [73854]
Mike Penning: When reviewing the specification of incident support units, the Highways Agency maintained a key objective of ensuring the safety of all road users. Service providers will still be required to establish timely and appropriate traffic management to protect both road users and the traffic officer service.
Motorways: Warrington
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the effect on (a) Warrington’s economy of delays and congestion on adjacent motorways and (b) delays and congestion on motorways around Warrington of reducing the incident support unit service; and if she will make a statement. [73827]
 
Mike Penning: The Highways Agency is moving to an outcome-based specification which allows its service providers to innovate and choose how best to deal with clearing the scene after an incident. There are specified clearance times for reopening the motorway which should bring economic benefits, both nationally and in the north-west.
Driving Offences
Grahame M. Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people in England with 12 or more points on their driving licence were exempted from a driving ban in the latest period for which figures are available. [72097]
Mike Penning [holding answer 10 October 2011]: On 14 September 2011, 8,838 drivers in England had 12 or more penalty points on their driving licence record and had not been banned from driving.
In cases where a driver has accumulated 12 or more penalty points, a court can exercise its discretion and choose not to disqualify the driver.
Driving: Diabetes
Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment her Department has made of the merits of establishing a group of expert diabetologists to assess people with diabetes holding or applying for a driving licence on an annual basis; if she will estimate the likely cost of establishing such a group; and what steps she plans to take to ensure that the costs of driving fitness assessments do not fall on the individuals applying for or holding a driving licence. [R] [75305]
Mike Penning: Based on the advice of the Secretary of State for Transport, the right hon. Member for Putney (Justine Greening’s), Honorary Medical Advisory Panel on Driving and Diabetes Mellitus the Department has made the decision to establish a group of expert Consultant diabetologists. Details of the likely cost of setting up such a group have not yet been finalised but is likely to be small. An interim process will be established to consider applications from those with insulin treated diabetes who wish to drive buses and lorries in the mean time. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency will pay for these assessments.
Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will bring forward the proposals to ensure that people with diabetes have access to an effective mechanism to challenge the decisions of medical practitioners and expert diabetologists in respect of their fitness to drive made during the annual assessments proposed under the DVLA proposals to amend driving licence standards for vision, diabetes and epilepsy. [R] [75306]
Mike Penning: It is the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), not general practitioners or expert diabetologists that make decisions on whether an individual is able to meet the appropriate medical standards for driving. The law already provides for appeals to be made through the Courts where DVLA has decided to issue a short period licence or revoke/refuse a licence. DVLA will always consider any fresh medical evidence which is provided.
 
Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reasons DVLA proposals for the implementation of EU Directives 2009/112/EC, 2009/113/EC and 2006/126/EC contain an annual review requirement for people with diabetes treated with insulin which is more stringent than the requirement in the Directives; and what the evidential basis is for this requirement. [R] [75307]
Mike Penning: The 12 month licence review refers to Group 2 (lorry and bus) licensing and will be relevant when the current blanket ban on drivers with insulin treated diabetes has been removed. The review period is in line with that deemed appropriate by the expert members of the Secretary of State for Transport, the right hon. Member for Putney (Justine Greening’s), Honorary Medical Advisory Panel on Driving and Diabetes Mellitus. Licences will be renewed provided that the appropriate medical standards are met.
Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps she plans to take to ensure that safe drivers retain (a) their driving licences and (b) the opportunity to renew their licences should they not meet the medical standards prescribed by EU directives 2009/112/EC, 2009/113/EC and 2006/126/EC. [R] [75308]
 
Mike Penning: Those who are able to meet the appropriate medical standards can lawfully be licensed to drive. Drivers who do not meet the new standards cannot be licensed to drive. If the driver’s health subsequently improves and they can meet the standards then a new application for a licence can be considered.
Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when she plans to publish the summary of responses to DVLA proposals to amend driving licence standards for vision, diabetes and epilepsy; and when she plans to publish her proposals for further steps on this matter. [R] [75309]
 
Mike Penning: A summary of the responses to the diabetes part of the consultation was published alongside the regulations laid before Parliament on 24 October. The responses on vision and epilepsy will be published next year when those regulations come into force.
Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps she plans to take to ensure that people with diabetes who subsequent to suffering from impaired awareness of hypoglycaemia regain awareness of hypoglycaemia and are otherwise fit to drive can reapply for their driving licence under expedited timescales after the implementation of EU directive 2009/112/EC. [R] [75311]
Mike Penning: Applicants who regain awareness of hypoglycaemia and meet all other medical licensing requirements will be eligible to reapply for their licences.
 
Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions she has had with healthcare professionals for the purpose of ensuring that the term second severe hypoglycaemic episode as contained in EU directive 2009/112/EC is understood and applied consistently by health care professionals and people with diabetes. [R] [75312]
Mike Penning: Advice on medical standards is provided by the Secretary of State’s for Transport’s Honorary Medical Panel on Diabetes Mellitus and Driving. Guidance on severe and recurrent hypoglycaemia is already available on the DVLA website and published by DVLA in a booklet ‘At a Glance Guide to the current Medical Standards of Fitness to Drive’. This provides advice to doctors on the medical standard to advise their patients. It is updated twice, yearly and can be downloaded from the DVLA’s website free of charge.
Also, an e-Alert system which sends messages to general practitioners was used to inform around 400,000 health care professionals about the changes proposed by the EU directive to medical standards.
Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions she has had with diabetes charities, organisations and support services on the implementation of EU directives 2009/112/EC, 2009/113/EC and 2006/126/EC. [R] [75313]
Mike Penning: DVLA officials were in discussions with Diabetes UK throughout the period of implementation of this directive. The consultation document was sent to a large number of charities and organisations including those who had expressed an interest.
Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps she is taking to ensure that people with diabetes are not excluded from commercial driving occupations. [R] [75314]
Mike Penning: Regulations which would permit drivers with insulin-treated diabetes to apply for Group 2 licences (lorries over 7.5 tonnes and buses) were laid before Parliament on 24 October.
Applicants for licences for other commercial vehicles will be subject to the standards set out in the directive. Those that meet the criteria and do not have any other debarring medical conditions will be licensed.
Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps she has taken to ensure that the effects of the implementation of EU Directives 2009/112/EC, 2009/113/EC and 2006/126/EC do not include substantial numbers of people with diabetes losing their driving licences. [R] [75315]
Mike Penning: The Government must implement the minimum health standards included in the EU Directives in 2009. We have approached the EU for confirmation of the intention of the directive in relation to severe hypoglycaemia.
There will be a number of those with diabetes who will become eligible to apply for a licence to drive buses and lorries for the first time as a result of the relaxation of the medical standards in Directive 2009/112/EC.
Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what legislative proposals she plans to bring forward to amend legislation governing the licensing of drivers to comply with EU Directives 2009/112/EC, 2009/113/EC and 2006/126/EC. [R] [75316]
Mike Penning: Great Britain already complies with the minimum requirements of EU Directive 2009/112/EC. The blanket ban imposed on those with insulin treated diabetes, preventing them from applying for a group two driving licence, will be removed by regulations laid in Parliament on 24 October.
No final decisions have been made on changes to the medical standards for epilepsy and vision. However, any changes are not likely to be introduced until 2012.
Driving: Licensing
 
Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will revise her estimate of the number of people with diabetes who may be adversely affected by the changes to the minimum requirements for fitness to drive following the implementation of Commission Directives 2009/112/EC and 2009/113/EC and Directive 2006/126/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. [76653]
Mike Penning: In the first year since the changes in relation to group one (car and motorcycle) drivers were introduced, 115 drivers have had their applications refused or licences revoked as a direct result of the changes to minimum standards introduced by the directive.
Roads: Weather
 
John Woodcock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps the Highways Agency has taken to improve the provision of information on road conditions in the event of severe winter weather. [76652]
Mike Penning: The Highways Agency has taken the following steps to improve the provision of information on road conditions in the event of severe weather:
The provision of early warnings of severe weather being issued to haulage operators via the Freight Transport Association and Road Haulage Association to allow operators to consider alternative routes and/or revise their delivery schedules;
Introduced in spring 2011 the provision of traffic data via TomTom satellite navigation devices;
Introduced in spring 2011 more extensive use of regionally focussed Twitter feeds to communicate information about travel conditions;
Introduced in September 2011 the improved use of over 2,000 electronic Variable Message Signs to include the use of warning message legends to provide advanced notification of severe weather and, in extreme circumstances, legends that advise motorists to avoid the area.
Industrial Health and Safety: Roads
Julian Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on what occasions the Health and Safety Executive has taken a highways authority to court on the grounds that its work departed from national standards and was construed as the local authority failing in its mandatory duty of care to road users in each of the last five years. [77301]
 
Chris Grayling: Between 1 April 2006 and 31 March 2011, no prosecutions have been taken by HSE against a highways authority in respect of any legal duty owed to road users imposed by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 or any other relevant statutory provision within its field of responsibility.
Motorways: Speed Limits
Nicola Blackwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the potential effect of higher speed limits on motorways on the level of (a) fuel consumption and (b) carbon emissions. [78400]
Mike Penning: We are assessing all the principal effects of raising the national speed limit on motorways and on some all-purpose trunk roads which are close to motorway standard. Our assessments include estimates of fuel use and carbon emissions. We will include these estimates as part of the documentation for the planned consultation.
Railways
Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when her Department plans to establish the (a) Rail System Agency and (b) National Safety Task Force recommended in the McNulty Rail Value For Money Study. [78344]
Mrs Villiers: The Department has been working closely with industry and the regulator to examine the proposals in Sir Roy McNulty’s independent review of Rail Value for Money.
Many of the recommendations in the review were aimed at industry, not Government, including recommendations in relation to setting up a Rail Systems Agency and National Safety Task Force. The independent Rail Delivery Group is working on these areas.
Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when her Department plans to establish the Rail Delivery Group with links to cross-industry bodies recommended in the McNulty Rail Value For Money Study. [78345]
Mrs Villiers: I refer the hon. Member to my answer to the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) of 14 June 2011, Official Report, column 727W, which sets out the details of the Rail Delivery Group.
The Rail Delivery Group has been meeting since June 2011.
Driving: Disqualification
 
Question
Asked by Lord Bradshaw
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many accidents involved drivers driving while disqualified in 2008, 2009 and 2010.[HL12622]
 
Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport does not hold information regarding the number of road accidents involving drivers driving while disqualified.
Roads: Speed Limits
 
Questions
Asked by Lord Bradshaw
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what achieved speed would trigger speed limit enforcement action by the police if the motorway speed limit was increased to 80 miles per hour.[HL12188]
Earl Attlee: It would be for the police to consider their approach to enforcement were the speed limit to change. We would expect the police to want to adjust their approach to enforcement in the light of any speed limit increase to ensure the highest levels of compliance with available policing resources.
Asked by Lord Bradshaw
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in their consideration of increasing the motorway speed limit from 70 miles per hour to 80 miles per hour, they are also considering reducing the national non-motorway speed limits to below 60 miles per hour, in line with other countries in Western Europe.[HL12192]
Earl Attlee: We have no plans to reduce the national speed limit for all-purpose single-carriageway roads to below 60 mph, nor to reduce the national speed limit for all-purpose dualled roads to below 70 mph.
Asked by Lord Bradshaw
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what change in the level of road deaths they estimate will result from increasing the motorway speed limit from 70 miles per hour to 80 miles per hour.[HL12265]
Earl Attlee: We are assessing all the principal effects of raising the national speed limit on motorways. We will include these estimates as part of the documentation for the consultation planned for later this year.
Asked by Lord Bradshaw
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of their recent announcements on raising the motorway speed limit, what increase in the level of road deaths per million population they consider acceptable. [HL12266]
Earl Attlee: We will be looking at all the effects caused by raising the motorway speed limit, including road safety, which is a key priority for the Government, and will be making a balanced judgment on the basis of them all.
Asked by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the effect on road casualties of the proposal to raise the motorway speed limit to 80 miles per hour.[HL12396]
Earl Attlee: We are assessing all the principal effects of raising the national speed limit on motorways. We will include these estimates as part of the documentation for the consultation planned for later this year.
Asked by Lord Bradshaw
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of their commitments on climate change and use of fossil fuels, whether they have estimated what impact the proposed increase of the motorway speed limit from 70 miles per hour to 80 miles per hour will have on the fuel used by an average family car travelling for 100 miles on a typical journey. [HL12189]
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what estimates have been made of how much extra carbon emissions would be produced per year by an increase in the motorway speed limit from 70 miles per hour to 80 miles per hour.[HL12190]
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the cost of re-educating drivers on longer stopping distances and the safe distance between cars, amending the highway code, re-siting safe distance markers on motorways, changing safe distance signage, and any other preventative safety measures required in increasing the motorway speed limit from 70 miles per hour to 80 miles per hour.[HL12193]
 
Earl Attlee: We are assessing all the principal effects of raising the national speed limit on motorways and on some all-purpose trunk roads which are close to motorway standard.
Our assessments include estimates of fuel use, carbon emissions and implementation costs. We will include these estimates as part of the documentation for the consultation planned for later this year.
Vehicles: Semi-trailers
 
Questions
Asked by Lord Bradshaw
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in their assessment of the impact of longer semi-trailers on safety, (a) what is the margin of error for the anticipated 1.6 per cent reduction in casualties estimated from assumptions on decreases in lorry miles, (b) what would be the impact on casualties if there is no decrease in lorry miles, and (c) what are the anticipated casualties in terms of (1) killed and seriously injured pedestrians, cyclists, car users, and other road users, and (2) minor injuries to pedestrians, cyclists, car users, and other road users.[HL12332]
Earl Attlee: The range of impacts around the 1.6 per cent figure is between zero and a reduction of 2.1 per cent.
The TRL report The likely effects of permitting longer semi-trailers in the UK: vehicle specification performance and safety considered the points at (b) and (c) and provided assessments where the potential impacts were identifiable.
A copy of the report is available from the Library of the House.
Transport: MoT Scheme
Question
Asked by Lord Bradshaw
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in 2008, 2009 and 2010, (a) how many garages were authorised to carry out MoTs, (b) how many garages and tests were monitored, (c) how many garages and tests failed their monitoring, and (d) how many garages had their authorisation to carry out MoTs withdrawn. [HL12685]
Earl Attlee: The information requested is in the table below:

2008-09 2009-10 2010-11

(a) Garages carrying out MoTs

19,902

20,431

21,476

(b) Garages monitored

9,973

9,854

10,779

Tests Monitored

8,720

8,929

10,496

(c) #MoT Compliance Survey (Test error rate)

15.4%

17.7%

12.4%

(d) *Authorised Examiners withdrawn 115

115

94

94


# Figures show the number of tests which failed the MoT compliance survey test rather than the total number of test failures. To find out the total number of test failures would incur disproportionate cost to find out.
* An authorised examiner is given authorisation to carry out MoT testing rather than a garage.
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