PQs 22nd – 25th October 2012

Motor Vehicles: Testing
Toby Perkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether vehicle testing is regarded as a sovereign matter by the European Union. [122672]
Stephen Hammond: The European Commission in proposing a regulation about roadworthiness tests states that ‘Roadworthiness is a sovereign activity’. The Commission proposes a regulation because it considers the implementation by member states of technical requirements set at an EU level has led to a high diversity in requirements with negative impacts both on road safety and the internal market.
The HoC Scrutiny Committee have referred the proposed legislation for a debate on a Reasoned Opinion which questions the justification by the EC for this approach in respect of competence to act at a supranational level.
The Department intends to challenge strongly any provisions that imply costs for Government, the public or industry.
PACTS comments: The EC proposals are available here: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-12-555_en.htm
The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) has published a position paper on the EC proposals: http://etsc.eu/documents/Roadworthiness%20Package_ETSC.pdf
Please also see the Secretary of State’s comments on the EC proposals.
EC proposals on including powered two or three wheelers (motorcycles and mopeds) and light trailers (under 3.5 tons) in road worthiness testing, and of changing the minimum standards for frequency of MOTs (to 4-2-1 for cars),  would not affect private GB motorists.
Roads: Safety
Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what safety rating system for the UK roads network is used by his Department. [124611]
Stephen Hammond: The Department does not have a safety rating system for the UK roads network but takes note of the output from the work done by the Road Safety Foundation and European Road Assessment Programme (EuroRAP) to assess the risks associated with the UK roads network.
PACTS comments: EuroRAP’s 2012 results for Britain have recently been published and can be found here:  http://www.eurorap.org/british-eurorap-results-2012
 
Cycling: Helmets
 
Mr Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to encourage children to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. [123679]
Stephen Hammond: We recommend all cyclists—especially children—wear helmets to protect them if they have a collision. The Highway Code, under rule 59, also recommends the wearing of helmets for cyclists of all ages. However, we believe people and parents should be free to choose whether to follow this advice and we have no plans to legislate to introduce mandatory enforcement of cycle helmet wearing.
The Think! campaigns for children include advice on the use of cycle helmets, as part of wider campaigns. These include ‘Tales of the Road’ for children aged six to 11:
http://talesoftheroad.direct.gov.uk/cycling-safety.php
Cycle safety advice for parents of children aged five to seven:
http://www.dft.gov.uk/think/education/early-years-and-primary/parents/5-to-7s/cycle-safety/
Cycle safety advice for parents of children aged seven to 11:
http://www.dft.gov.uk/think/education/early-years-and-primary/parents/7-to-11s/cycle-safety/
Cycle safety advice for parents of children aged 12+:
http://www.dft.gov.uk/think/education/secondary/parents/cycle-safety/
We have also recently launched a THINK CYCLIST campaign which offers advice to drivers and cyclists on how to stay safe on the road. One of the messages to cyclists is to wear a correctly fitted cycle helmet, which is securely fastened and conforms to current regulations:
http://think.direct.gov.uk/cycling.html
Electric Vehicles
Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the number of persons who were (a) killed, (b) seriously injured and (c) slightly injured by plug-in electric and hybrid electric vehicles when operating in electric mode in each of the last two years; and if he will make a statement. [124191]
Stephen Hammond: The number of casualties in reported personal injury road accidents known to involve electric and hybrid electric vehicles for the years 2010 and 2011 were as follows:
Electric vehicles
Two deaths, 10 serious injuries, and 59 slight injuries in 2010; and one death, 10 serious injuries and 56 slight injuries in 2011.
Hybrid electric vehicles
10 deaths, 72 serious injuries and 576 slight injuries in 2010; and five deaths, 61 serious injuries and 761 slight injuries in 2011.
In both years the number of casualties known to involve electric or hybrid electric vehicles accounted for less than 0.5% of the total number of casualties in reported road accidents in Britain.
The Department refers to DVLA records to determine whether a vehicle involved in an accident has electric or hybrid electric propulsion. This is only possible for British-registered vehicles where a full and accurate vehicle registration mark (VRM) is contained in the police record. This information exists for around three-quarters of vehicles involved in personal injury accidents. There may therefore have been additional accidents involving electric or hybrid electric vehicles that are registered outside Britain, or where the reported VRM was invalid or missing.
The Department does not hold information on whether a vehicle was operating in electric mode at the time of the accident, nor whether the vehicle is of the ‘plug-in’ type.
Large Goods Vehicles: Licensing
 
Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will consider (a) allowing exemptions from the Certificate of Professional Competence programme to be granted to HGV drivers with a large amount of experience and (b) introducing a form of re-certification test to allow HGV drivers to prove their knowledge without having to undergo classroom tuition. [124131]
Stephen Hammond: The intent of Directive 2003/59/EC is to encourage lorry, bus and coach drivers to recognise the value of continuing professional development and to undertake training that recognises and builds upon their existing levels of experience, knowledge and expertise.
The recital to the directive states
“the obligation to … undergo periodic training is intended to improve road safety and the safety of the driver”.
The directive does not provide an exemption from periodic training based upon the driving experience of individual drivers neither does it permit the introduction of ‘re-certification tests’. Both of these would run counter to the basic purpose of the directive.
Motor Vehicles
Mr Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many registered (a) cars, (b) vans and (c) heavy goods vehicles there were in the UK in the latest period for which figures are available. [123390]
Stephen Hammond: The numbers of registered cars, light goods and heavy goods vehicles in Great Britain as at 30 June 2012 are shown in the following table. Statistics for the UK are not compiled centrally by the Department for Transport as the registration of cars in Northern Ireland is administered separately by the Northern Ireland Driver and Vehicle Agency.
Vehicles registered in Great Britain, as at 30 June 2012
Number (million)
Cars
28.710
Light goods vehicles
3.283
Heavy goods vehicles
0.466
Source: Vehicle Licensing Statistics, Great Britain: Quarter 2 2012 (DFT). These statistics are derived from the DVLA vehicle register, an operational database used to handle the licensing of vehicles registered in Great Britain.
Motor Vehicles: Registration
 
Alun Cairns: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many non-commercial vehicles registered overseas entered the UK in the latest period for which figures are available; and what consideration he has given to introducing charges for such vehicles to use the road network. [123505]
Stephen Hammond: In 2011, 0.4% of traffic on British roads was estimated to be foreign registered. For car journeys in the UK, only 0.3% of traffic is foreign registered. For this reason, the Government’s current plans are to charge only heavy goods vehicles and not to charge non-commercial vehicles.
Electric Vehicles
Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research he has (a) undertaken and (b) plans to undertake on the effects on deaf and blind persons of plug-in electric and hybrid electric vehicles when operating in electric mode; and if he will make a statement. [124188]
Norman Baker: This issue is being addressed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). To support discussions at both UNECE and with the European Commission, the Department for Transport undertook research into the possible risks posed by electric and hybrid electric vehicles to the safety of vulnerable road pedestrians and other road users. Although the research found no current evidence of a higher accident rate for these vehicles, a panel of visually impaired subjects did find that detecting the approach of a hybrid vehicle operating in electric mode at speeds below 20 km/h (12 mph) was harder, on average, than detecting the approach of conventional vehicles with whose sounds they were familiar. The full reports on that work may be found on the Department’s website.
Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he has had with the motor industry about establishing a minimum level of noise for plug-in electric and hybrid electric vehicles when operating in electric mode; what responses he has received from the industry; and if he will make a statement. [124189]
Norman Baker: I am aware of the concern this issue causes to some people. Like many of my ministerial colleagues, I have meetings with the motor industry on a variety of issues. However, I have not yet had any specific meetings to discuss this issue with regard to plug-in electric and hybrid electric vehicles.
Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will bring forward proposals to establish a minimum level of noise for plug-in electric and hybrid electric vehicles when operating in electric mode; and if he will make a statement. [124190]
Norman Baker: We have no plans at present to do so. This issue is being addressed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the European Commission have recently published a proposed regulation on vehicle noise, and that proposal includes a requirement that, if manufacturers choose to add noise to electric or hybrid vehicles, then the noise added should meet certain harmonised standards. This proposal is currently the subject of discussion and negotiation at a European level. A final text is likely to be published during 2013.
Motor Vehicles: Insurance
 
Mr Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the recommendations of the European Commission’s Project Veronica study on black boxes for cars. [124532]
Stephen Hammond: The Veronica reports were wide ranging and highlighted a number of issues that need careful consideration before formulating detailed policy. The Government has no plans to take forward the recommendations at present though we will continue to monitor developments in this area and to liaise with the European Commission and member states as needed.
A1
 
Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many miles of the A1 have no road markings; and what his Department’s policy is on replacing worn or damaged stretches where road markings are absent. [124594]
Stephen Hammond: There are no sections of the A1 or A1(M) managed by the Highways Agency that have no road markings.
Where defects to road markings require prompt attention because they represent an immediate or imminent hazard, Highways Agency service providers are required to repair them within defined time scales to ensure safety of the road users.
Where there is a case for a more comprehensive renewal of road markings, service providers will develop planned maintenance schemes for consideration by the Highways Agency. The value for money of these schemes will be assessed alongside others to ensure the best use of available funds.
Driving Tests
 
Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what steps he has taken to increase the number of multi-purpose driving test centres; [124588]
(2) what target he has set for the number of operational multi-purpose driving test centres; and how many are currently in operation. [124589]
Stephen Hammond: The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) currently has 51 test centres delivering car driving tests and module 1 motorcycling tests.
In June 2010, Ministers announced a review into the delivery of the practical motorcycling test. The review is still under way and, pending publication of its recommendations, the DSA will not invest additional sums in multi-purpose test centres.
However, as an interim measure, additional low-cost “casual hire” sites are being considered. Negotiations are under way for a site in Stoke-on-Trent and another site is being assessed for suitability on Stornaway. Other casual hire sites will be considered as they become available.
Driving: Licensing
Ann Coffey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the waiting time is for driving licences being reissued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency medical advisory panel. [124519]
Stephen Hammond: The time taken for a driving licence to be issued where medical investigations are necessary will vary depending on the complexity of the case. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency categorises cases as simple and complex. Those where further medical information is required from the licence holder or the medical professional managing their treatment are considered complex.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s target is to complete 90% of simple cases within 15 working days and 88% of complex cases within 90 days. So far this year the agency has achieved an average performance level of 89% for simple cases and 87% for complex cases.
Motorcycles: Driving Tests
 
Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) when he plans to publish the review of the Driving Standards Agency’s implementation and delivery of the module 1 part of the motorcycle test; [124547]
(2) how many participants have taken part in his trial of a unified motorcycle test; [124591]
(3) what assessment he has made of his trial of a unified motorcycle test; and when he expects the results of that trial to be published. [124592]
Stephen Hammond: The technical aspects of module 1 were revised in May 2011, as part of interim changes to the motorcycle test:
http://www.dft.gov.uk/news/stories/dsa-news-20110328
The number of participants that have been involved in the research trials, to date, is 250; this includes test ready learner riders, trainers and DSA driving examiners.
An assessment of the trials will be made once the research has concluded. The results of the research will be published alongside the public consultation, on any proposed changes to the motorcycle test, which is expected to commence in the spring.
Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many individuals have completed two or more compulsory bike tests, since the introduction of the new testing procedures. [124549]
Stephen Hammond: As at 22 October 2012, there have been 68,187 individuals that have completed two or more practical motorcycling tests since the introduction of the two-part test on 27 April 2009. These include those who have taken either:
more than one module 1 test but no module 2 test; or
module 1 and module 2 tests with more than one attempt at either or both modules.
In addition, 70,478 individuals have taken a single module 1 and single module 2 test.
Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport with reference to the establishment of the module 1 motorcycle test, what estimate he has made of the (a) rate of accidents during the new test and (b) effect of weather conditions on the rate of accidents. [124550]
Stephen Hammond: Since the introduction of the 2-part practical motorcycling test on 27 April 2009, there have been:
776 incidents on module 1 tests, and
223 incidents on module 2 tests.
The rate of incidents has been monitored closely since the test was introduced. The Driving Standards Agency conducted around 62,500 tests in the last 12 months to August 2012. There were 2.7 incidents per 1,000 tests for that period—which is a reduction from 3.3 incidents over the previous 12 month period.
The incident rate is currently 1.3 incidents per 1,000 tests. The majority (83%) of these were minor in nature and only 26 were serious reportable incidents. Serious incidents are defined as those where the candidate received medical attention and was taken straight to hospital from the test site.
No analysis has been carried out into the effect of weather conditions on incidents on test.
Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has undertaken a comparative assessment of the pass rate of motorcycle tests in the UK with that of other EU countries. [124551]
Stephen Hammond: CIECA, the international commission for driver testing authorities compiles data about driving and riding test rates. The comparative pass rates of those member states who declared their category A1, A2 and A test pass rates (measured in % passed) in 2011 were:
Percentage
CIECA country A1 A2 A

Bulgaria

86.8

92.4

Denmark

89.9

Estonia

72.9

76

83.5

Great Britain

60

64

71

Latvia

51.1

70.6

70.6

Lithuania

57.5

72.35

72.82

Netherlands

73.8

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many motorcycle driving instructors and trainers he estimates were operating in (a) August 2008 and (b) August 2012. [124552]
Stephen Hammond: No data is available for the number of motorcycle instructors in 2008. In October 2009, 2,675 certificates were held by motorcycling instructors delivering compulsory basic training and direct access training.
Since April 2011, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has published official statistics on the Department for Transport (DFT) website about the number of certificates issued to motorcycling instructors delivering compulsory basic training and direct access training. These figures are produced quarterly and in June 2012 there were 2,849 certificates held.
Other types of motorcycling instruction such as pre-test training are unregulated and no data is held about the number of instructors operating in those sectors.
Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he plans to seek a derogation from the EU requirement of a 50 kilometre an hour speed for certain elements of the module 1 motorcycle test to allow the merger of that module with module 2 of the motorcycle test. [124587]
Stephen Hammond: The Department for Transport review into the delivery of the practical motorcycling test is still ongoing. One of a range of options under consideration is for the higher speed manoeuvres to be carried out on road at or around the urban speed limit of 30 mph. Once the review is complete we will be in a position to determine whether a derogation is necessary.
Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what comparative estimate he has made of the rate of accidents at permanent motorcycle test centres and that at casual sites. [124590]
Stephen Hammond: The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) monitors the rate of incidents during all testing and training activity at all DSA and trainer owned locations—including on road training and testing.
The number of incidents, at both permanent and casual testing sites, since the two-part practical motorcycling test was introduced, is shown in the following table:
Test Permanent site Casual site

Module 1 (off road)

614

162

Module 2 (on road)

180

43

All serious incidents are followed up and investigated where appropriate to determine the cause and to provide advice and support to those involved.
Roads: Repairs and Maintenance
 
Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what investment the Highways Agency has made in roads (a) in Essex, (b) in the Braintree district, (c) in the Malden district, (d) in Colchester borough, (e) along the A12 and (f) along the A120 in each of the last five years; and what investment plans are in place over each of the next five years. [122847]
Stephen Hammond: A breakdown of annual spend by county, local authority area or by route is not available. The available information for capital(1) expenditure along the A12(2) and A120(3) for the most recent five year period is shown in the following table. The figures in this table exclude some capital expenditure on the A12 and A120 that was funded from area wide or non route specific budgets. Route specific information for this type of expenditure is not available.
 is table exclude some capital expenditure on the A12 and A120 that was funded from area wide or non route specific budgets. Route specific information for this type of expenditure is not available.
£
Route 2008-09 2009-10 (4) 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 (5)

A12

427,064

16,358,345

5,096,070

6,611,071

4,107,831

A12 VMS and CCTV(6)

158,094

962,458

242,467

0

0

A120

391,236

324,769

650,245

723,526

1,063,037

A120 VMS and CCTV(6)

49,614

569,218

66,187

0

44,000

(1) Capital expenditure is investment in items such as new roads, resurfacing, replacement of lighting columns, central reserve safety barrier, etc as opposed to Resource expenditure which is generally routine maintenance such as minor repairs, grass cutting, light bulbs etc. Information on annual resource expenditure by county, local authority area or specific route is not available. (2) Includes the sections of the A12 between the M25 and Ipswich and between Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. (3 )Includes the sections of the A120 between the M11 and the A12 at Marks Tey and between A12 Junction 29 (Colchester) and Harwich. (4) From 2009-10 onwards all schemes valued over £100,000 are treated as capital expenditure. (5) Forecast expenditure for 2012-13 as at 3 October 2012. (6) Estimated capital expenditure for Variable Message Signs (VMS) and CCTV cameras. Actual expenditure by route is not available.
Future spend is dependent on annual funding allocations by the Department for Transport. Funding allocations for 2013-14 will be available in January 2013 when budgets for the coming year have been finalised.
Investment for future major schemes is set through the spending review. There are currently no plans for major schemes on the A12 and A120 in Essex in the current review period to 2014-15.
Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how the Highways Agency monitors contracts requiring the repair or replacement of road markings at times when a section of road is not being renewed. [124553]
Stephen Hammond: Highways Agency maintenance contracts require service providers to maintain the paved carriageway, including road markings and studs, to defined standards. These standards include performance requirements for the repair of serious defects within defined timescales.
Service providers are subject to regular audit and performance monitoring by the Highways Agency to ensure contractual requirements are being met.
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