Casualties in road accidents reached a post-war peak of over 397,000 in 1965. Since then, the trend has generally been downwards. In 1987, the latest year for which full details are available, there were 311,500 casualties. During the same period, the trend for deaths in road accidents has also been downwards, falling from 7,950 in 1965 to 5,125 in 1987.
Provisional figures for 1988 show a slight upturn in total casualties to 321,700, but road deaths show a continued fall, to an estimated 5,041 in 1988.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that many families will be eternally grateful to him for his success in bringing down the number of road deaths, although, naturally, there is still some concern about road casualties? What action is my right hon. Friend taking in respect of the various organisations that have an interest in making representations on his response to the North report?
I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend. My predecessors, my colleagues in the Department and the Department itself have done an immense amount of work on this important topic. In July 1987, I set the target of reducing road casualties by one third by the year 2000. Traffic is increasing considerably. My hon. Friend rightly referred to the North report. Naturally, we shall carefully consider any representation that has been made to us. We have already received a large number, and we are considering them carefully. We have already been able to take some action about high risk offenders.
My right hon. Friend will be aware that one way of combating the road casualty figures is to make sure that motor vehicles are roadworthy. Would he care to comment on the European meeting of Ministers, at which a new tyre directive was devised, and tell us when it is proposed to be introduced?
I thought that my hon. Friend would be pleased about the new tyre directive. I read his powerful speech a few days before the European Council meeting. I am not sure whether I am in total agreement with him about the matter, but I think that he will be pleased about the new 1·6 mm tyre tread directive which will come into force in the middle of 1990. If I have that detail wrong, I will write to my hon. Friend.