Coach Safety

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th July 1988.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr James Cran Mr James Cran , Beverley 12:00 am, 11th July 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what was the outcome of his discussions in June with the Bus and Coach Council on improvements in coach safety.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The outcome of the discussion was that the Bus and Coach Council agreed to make progress on the safety of power doors and the need to fit seat belts.

Photo of Mr James Cran Mr James Cran , Beverley

Does my hon. Friend agree that, as his Department's figures show that bus passengers are three times more likely to be injured than, for example, rail passengers, the cost of £1,000 to £1,500 to give seat belts to all passengers in a 57-seater bus is cheap at the price?

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

It is worth remembering that we need to go step by step. The House passed the Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Rear Seat Belts By Children) Bill 1988. We are requiring seat belts in the exposed front seats of coaches, but is has not yet been made mandatory. I prefer to see coach operators fit seat belts voluntarily and then see whether passengers are willing to use them. I agree with my hon. Friend that we need to continue to try to improve safety in all forms of transport, but travelling by coach is substantially safer than travelling by car. Perhaps we should turn our attention to car safety, even more than to coach safety.

Photo of Mr Anthony Grant Mr Anthony Grant , Cambridge South West

Is my hon. Friend aware that one of the greatest contributions that could be made to safety in coaches would be to stop them going too fast in the wrong lane on motorways, too close behind other vehicles? Is he aware that, in Japan, heavy goods vehicles are fitted with lights which show when they are exceeding the speed limit and that it is perfectly possible to have a system which shows when they are too close behind another vehicle? When will he do something along that line?

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Very shortly. Legal speed limiters on coaches are coming in, and that is greatly welcomed. The excessive speeds of coaches have been reduced dramatically. Speeding by HGVs and by cars has come down, although not speeding by motor cycles. We should pay attention to my hon. Friend's point about automatic visibility signs on speeding vehicles. In Singapore, for example, light vehicles flash a yellow light when they are going too fast and the police just wave them in.