New clause 25 - Seat belts: delivery drivers

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

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Photo of Mr David Jamieson Mr David Jamieson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport 11:15 am, 11th March 2003

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.