New clause 25 - Seat belts: delivery drivers

Railways and Transport Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 11th March 2003.

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'The following shall be substituted for section 14(2)(b)(i) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (c.52) (seat belts: exceptions: delivery drivers)—

''(i) the driver of or a passenger in a motor vehicle constructed or adapted for carrying goods, while on a journey which does not exceed the prescribed distance and which is undertaken for the purpose of delivering or collecting any thing,''.'.—[Mr. Jamieson.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Mr Alan Hurst Mr Alan Hurst Labour, Braintree

With this it will be convenient to discuss new clause 24—Requirement for adults to wear adult seat belts—

'.—A person driving or riding in the front or rear seat of a vehicle constructed or adapted for the delivery of goods or mail to consumer addressees, as the case may be, while engaged in making local rounds or deliveries or collections shall wear an adult seat belt.'.

Photo of Mr David Jamieson Mr David Jamieson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

I understand the intention behind the proposal to remove the exemption for drivers and passengers in vehicles undertaking deliveries. However, new clause 24 would completely remove their existing exemption. We do not believe that that is

right. An exemption for travel over very short distances is justified. The current exemption in section 14 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, is intended for the users of goods vehicles undertaking local rounds of collections and deliveries—for example, making frequent stops on household rubbish collections or doorstep milk deliveries. It would be unreasonable to require seat belts to be used every time such a vehicle moved a few yards to its next stop. That part of the existing legislation is not well understood and there are some van and goods vehicle drivers who are unclear about the intention behind the exemption.

That is why we have put forward new clause 25, which proposes a suitable change in the wording of the 1988 Act. If it becomes law, a new regulation will follow setting a maximum distance that may be travelled in goods vehicles before users are required to use their seat belt. The distance will be established after consultation with interested parties, and we envisage that it will be quite short. Apart from providing clarity for users, that would also provide clarity for the police, making it easier for them to enforce exemptions. I hope that the hon. Member for Uxbridge will not press new clause 24.

Photo of John Randall John Randall Conservative, Uxbridge

Perhaps I should declare an interest. The company of which I am a director has delivery vehicles—

It being twenty-five minutes past Eleven o'clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned till this day at half-past Two o'clock.