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Road Safety and the Legal Framework — [Mr Clive Betts in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:19 am on 20th November 2018.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 10:19 am, 20th November 2018

I thank Ruth Cadbury for bringing this debate forward.

The Road Safety Foundation’s annual report, “Getting back on track”, which was launched in partnership with Ageas UK, clearly says that if we had been on track to halve road deaths in this decade, in line with international targets, an extra 2,549 people would not have lost their lives between 2010 and 2017. Some 1,793 people were killed in road crashes in 2017, and 73 people were killed or seriously injured every day. Motorcycle fatalities increased by 9% from 319 in 2016 to 349 in 2017. In comparison with what the UK Government spend on education and GP services, £35 billion, or nearly 2% of GDP, is lost as a result of road crashes each year. There is a financial cost.

As other hon. Members have done, I want to talk about how this issue has affected me. My brother Keith, who is 6 feet 2 inches, was involved in a motorbike accident. Now he has carers who come in four times a day. He cannot manage his money. He cannot walk without a cane. He cannot speak or think like he once did. My mother looks after him, and everyone tries to help. Sometimes, we see the accidents but not the effect on the families. An accident in a sport that Keith loved has had a very clear impact on him and our family.

Across our constituencies, there are those who have lost loved ones, or who have lost their limbs or their way of life in an accident. More than saving money, better road safety is about saving lives and the quality of those lives.

We have talked many times in Westminster Hall and in the main Chamber about road safety, and I want in particular to mention road safety around schools. Two schools in my constituency have 20 mph zones around them, but there are many others that still have a need for safety, such as Grey Abbey Primary School, which dates back to 1847 and sits on a 90° blind bend in the road. There needs to be help for that.

Ring-fenced funding would mean more traffic-calming schemes, and more traffic-calming schemes would mean fewer accidents; importantly, reduced speed means less damage to children. Texting while driving and distracting friends while driving also need to be addressed. It is estimated that if the Government were to invest £75 million per year over the next five years, 1,450 people would be spared the trauma of death or injury. The value of injury prevention exceeds half a billion over the same period. For every £1 invested in safer roads, £4.40 of economic value is created. The figures on the finances are very clear.

While we do not have a devolved Government in Northern Ireland due to the intransigence of Sinn Féin, I ask the Minister to ring-fence funding and ensure that the relevant Department in Northern Ireland understands what is expected from that additional funding.