PQs 9th – 12th July

Roads: Accidents
 
Meg Munn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the reasons for the increase in the number of people killed (a) by cars and (b) in road accidents between 2010 and 2011. [115950]
Mike Penning: The number of people killed as a result of a collision involving a car rose by 7% in Great Britain, from 1,117 in 2010 to 1,196 in 2011. Numbers of people killed in a road accident rose by 3% in Great Britain, from 1,850 in 2010 to 1,901 in 2011.
Since 2003, deaths in road accidents have fallen steadily, and 2010 saw the highest ever fall (17%) in a single year. Despite the increase in fatalities in 2011 the annual total is below that of 2009, and is indeed the second lowest figure since the end of the First World War.
There are a number of factors that may have contributed to the year-on-year increase in road fatalities from 2010 to 2011. However, there is evidence that extreme winter weather conditions tend to reduce the number of road fatalities, as there is much less traffic than usual and those motorists who do venture out tend to drive more slowly and cautiously.
In this context it is particularly notable that there were two separate periods of sustained snow and ice across many areas of Great Britain during 2010 (one at the beginning of the year, one at the end), but no such periods on a comparable scale during 2011. This year-on-year difference would be expected to lead to a higher number of fatalities in the winter months of 2011 than in the winter months of 2010, holding all other factors equal.
The statistics bear this out: during the four winter months of 2011 (January, February, November and December) there were 81 more road fatalities than in the same months of 2010. During the remaining eight months of the year (March to October inclusive), which were not affected by extreme winter weather, there were 30 fewer fatalities in 2011 than in 2010.
PACTS comments: As Mr Penning was unable to be present for Transport Questions on the day the headline figures for Reported Road Casualties 2011 were published, this is the first opportunity for MPs to question the Road Safety Minister about the rise in the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads in 2011. Here Penning offers an explanation for the increase. 
Driving Under Influence: Drugs
 
Jim Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether she plans to hold a public consultation on the findings of the Expert Panel on Drug Driving; and if she will make a statement. [116108]
Mike Penning: Yes I do plan to hold a consultation about the findings on the expert panel.
Indeed there is a requirement in the clause for the new specific drug driving offence for there to be consultation about which controlled drugs would be specified in the new offence and what the specified limits for them would be.
The regulations specifying controlled drugs and limits for the new offence would be subject to the affirmative procedure.
Driving: Licensing
 
Meg Munn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps the Government (a) has taken and (b) plans to take to ensure compliance with European Commission Directives 2009/113/EC and 2006/126/EC regarding eyesight requirements for licensing group 1 and group 2 drivers; and whether she plans to bring forward legislative proposals to ensure such compliance. [116001]
Mike Penning: Following a public consultation on the European Commission’s proposals to amend the eyesight standards, legislative changes are now being introduced. These changes will be introduced as soon as the parliamentary process allows and we hope to have then in place by early autumn.
In the meantime administrative arrangements have been put in place to ensure that all driving licence applicants meet the minimum acuity standards required by the directives.
Pedestrian Crossings: Schools
 
David Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether it is her policy that there has to be a fatality before road crossing measures are implemented outside schools. [115757]
Norman Baker: No. It is for individual local highway authorities to determine whether or not a pedestrian crossing is necessary, taking into account local factors which they are best placed to judge. The Department for Transport provides guidance on assessing the need for pedestrian crossings and for their design, through Local Transport Notes 1/95 and 2/95.
Roads: Accidents
 
Gareth Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many cyclists were (a) killed and (b) injured on the roads in each police force area in each of the last 10 years; [115890]
(2) how many pedestrians were (a) killed and (b) injured in road accidents in each police force area in each of the last 10 years. [115891]
Mike Penning: The information requested has been placed in the Libraries of the House.
Gareth Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many pedestrians were (a) killed and (b) injured in collisions with cyclists in each police force area in each of the last 10 years; [115892]
(2) how many cyclists were (a) killed and (b) injured in collisions with pedestrians in each police force area in each of the last 10 years. [115893]
Mike Penning: The information requested has been placed in the Library of the House.
Figures for cyclists who were injured or killed after a road collision involving a pedestrian are included only for cases where the pedestrian was also injured in the accident. It is not possible to identify pedestrian involvement in collisions where only the cyclist was injured.
Gareth Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many cyclists were (a) killed and (b) injured contravening red lights in each police force area in each of the last 10 years; [115894]
(2) how many pedestrians have been (a) killed and (b) injured by cyclists contravening red lights in each police force area in each of the last 10 years. [115895]
Mike Penning: The information requested is not held centrally by the Department.
Driving Under Influence: Drugs
Jim Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consideration the Expert Panel on Drug Driving plans to give to the position of people taking stable doses of legitimately prescribed opioid based medicines for long term pain relief in the event that the detection device shows a positive test; and if she will make a statement. [116109]
Mike Penning: The expert panel is considering opioids as a family of controlled drugs, because some of the scientific issues are common to this family of drugs, which includes both heroin and medicinally used drugs. The Government’s prime policy deliberation in considering opioids is to reduce the risk to public safety on the roads posed by drivers who have taken illicit substances such as heroin.
However, medically supplied opioids may be proposed for inclusion in the new offence if they pose a major road safety problem. Alternatively, it may be that the evidence indicates that it would be more appropriate to continue to rely on the driving impairment offence.
Roads: Accidents
 
John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information her Department holds on the number of road traffic accidents where the cause of the accident was attributed to the driver having a hypoglycaemic attack in each of the last five years. [116252]
Mike Penning: Information on the number of road traffic accidents where the cause of the accident was attributed to the driver having had a hypoglycaemic attack is not recorded.
Roads: Safety
Mr Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many road safety management teams have been (a) disbanded and (b) reduced in staff numbers in the last two years. [116193]
Mike Penning: The Department for Transport does not collect information about the numbers and sizes of local authorities’ road safety management teams. Local authorities have statutory duties related to road safety, but the decisions about how many staff are necessary and whether staff are employed directly or not are for local authorities.
The Government recognises that local communities have a central role in making roads as safe as they can be. It is has therefore changed the way its funding support is provided to give local authorities more freedom to assess and act on their own priorities. It has also provided a new local sustainable transport fund and from April 2013 there will be more funding associated with the transfer of responsibilities for public health to local authorities.
Unmanned Air Vehicles
Mr Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what provisions are in place to allow for the testing of unmanned air vehicles in UK airspace. [116254]
 
Mrs Villiers: A facility for research and development in relation to Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) has been set up in the ParcAberporth site in West Wales. This utilises West Wales Airport and a complex of Danger Areas surrounding it (both over water and over land). These Danger Areas provide the requisite segregated airspace for UAS operations ‘beyond visual line of sight’. In addition, there are a number of other UK Danger Areas within which UAS operations may be permitted.
A Danger Area is defined as
“airspace which has been notified as such within which activities dangerous to the flight of aircraft may take place or exist at such times as may be notified”.
When such airspace is required, its vertical and lateral dimensions, hours of operation and other salient details are notified in the En-Route section of the United Kingdom Aeronautical Information Publication.
DFT charges the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), through the Directorate of Airspace Policy (DAP), with ensuring the safe and efficient use of all airspace, including Danger Areas, while embracing the concept of the Flexible Use of Airspace (FUA). Danger Area Sponsors manage Danger Area airspace and set the policy to ensure the safe, effective and efficient management of the airspace for which they have responsibility. UAS will be subject to the same level of safety regulation as conventional manned aircraft.
Electric Vehicles
Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 19 June 2012, Official Report, column 841W, on electric vehicles, for what reason her Department moved the commitment to push for the early EU adoption of electric vehicle infrastructure standards from being an action in the main Structural Reform Plan in its May 2011 Business Plan to being an additional departmental action in Annex B of its May 2012 Business Plan; and what progress her Department has made towards securing early EU adoption of electric vehicle infrastructure standards. [116272]
Norman Baker: In line with Cabinet Office guidance the main Structural Reform Plan is now more focussed on the actions we will undertake to implement our major structural reforms. In light of which we have in some cases consolidated some individual actions into higher level actions, in order to retain a manageable number of actions in the main document.
The Office for Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV) remains an active member of the British Standards Institution (BSI) PEL/069 Committee, which develops and sets UK standards and represents UK interests in EU standards setting bodies. The Government participated, at both ministerial and official level, in CARS21 (Competitive Automotive Regulatory System for the 21st Century), a recent Commission-led process which made recommendations for the policy and regulatory framework for the European automotive industry, including on the standardisation of recharging infrastructure. The CARS21 final report can be found at:
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/automotive/files/cars-21-final-report-2012_en.pdf
The EC intends to adopt a Communication on the recommendations from the CARS21 process, to which both my Department and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will be responding.
 
Railways: Safety
 
Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 26 June 2012, Official Report, column 253W, on railway safety, what role her Department has in setting minimum railway safety standards other than sending officials as observers to Rail Safety and Standards Board committee meetings. [116273]
Mrs Villiers: The practice of sending officials as observers to the Rail Safety and Standards Board committee meetings continues the approach used by the previous administration. In addition, as well as working with stakeholders to ensure that the United Kingdom continues to have one of the safest railways in the world, the Department has provided input to the European Union’s harmonised Common Safety Targets (‘CSTs’). These represent the minimum safety levels and safety performance which must be reached by member states.
Roads: Safety
Mr Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many local authorities in England operate road safety education activities in schools. [116562]
Mike Penning: The Department for Transport does not collect information about how many local authorities operate road safety education activities in schools in England. Local authorities have statutory duties related to road safety but the decisions about whether they operate road safety education activities in schools in England are for local authorities.
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