Road Accidents

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Transport and the Regions – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20 March 2001.

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Photo of Ann Cryer Ann Cryer Labour, Keighley 12:00, 20 March 2001

What steps he has taken to reduce the number of road accidents in the past three years. [152919]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Mr. Robert Ainsworth):

In March last year, the Government launched their new road safety strategy for Great Britain, "Tomorrow's Roads—Safer for Everyone". It included targets to reduce overall deaths and serious injuries by 40 per cent. and to reduce child deaths and serious injuries by 50 per cent. by 2010, compared with the average for 1994 to 1998, together with details of many policies and initiatives that will help to achieve them

Photo of Ann Cryer Ann Cryer Labour, Keighley

I have very good reasons—personal reasons—to welcome any measures that will reduce the number of road traffic accidents. Does my hon. Friend agree, however, that the safest method of travel remains travel on our railways?

Following earlier questions, and in view of many letters in my postbag at home, I am beginning to be increasingly concerned at the number of people who tell me that they are returning from the railways to their cars—which can only bring about more accidents—owing mainly, in my area, to the chaos created by Railtrack at Leeds city station. May I encourage my hon. Friend to read early-day motion 69, which bears 108 signatures, and part of which calls for what is now Railtrack to be returned to public ownership?

Mr. Ainsworth:

The whole House recognises and appreciates my hon. Friend's interest in road safety.

My hon. Friend makes an important point. Despite efforts made over a long period to make our roads safer—and our record in that regard bears comparison to that of any of our European colleagues—and despite the difficulties, and publicity about those difficulties, that rail has experienced over the past year or so, rail travel is still seven times safer than road travel. We must continue to make people aware of that, and encourage them as far as possible to use rail rather than roads, for safety as well as for environmental and other reasons.

Photo of Mr David Prior Mr David Prior Chief Executive & Deputy Chair, Conservative Party

What action are the Government taking to encourage county councils to impose 30 mph speed limits through rural villages?

Mr. Ainsworth:

We have given councils the power, where they think it appropriate, to introduce 20 mph speed limits. That is part of the programme introduced in the paper "Tomorrow's Roads—Safer for Everyone".