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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:22 am on 20th November 2018.

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Photo of Matt Western Matt Western Labour, Warwick and Leamington 10:22 am, 20th November 2018

I congratulate my hon. Friend Ruth Cadbury on securing this debate. As we have heard, this is an increasing problem and an ever present danger on our roads. Just two months ago in my constituency, over a four-week period there were three deaths on our streets—Emscote Road, Radford Road and Banbury Road—and numerous road traffic accidents.

We have to change attitudes on how we view and use road space. As was mentioned by Dr Wollaston, we need to encourage more people to use the road space, while making provision for the safety of all users. These are not motorways; they are roads for all to use. Alongside introducing changes to the legal framework, we need to ensure that we are changing behaviour at the same time.

Clearly, there are many causes. There are increasing pressures in modern life—pressures to get to work and to get the kids to school, and so on—but there are also a greater number of delivery drivers. More and more people are using the internet to shop and there are more and more deliveries to home and so on. Many of those delivery drivers, in the new gig economy, are being forced to work at such a pace that they are perhaps less observant of regulations and other road users than they might ordinarily be. They are under more and more pressure. Likewise, new housing developments around our towns put more pressure on the central town area infrastructure, with insufficient capacity to deal with the additional road use.

We also see a lack of enforcement of speed limits on our streets, with fewer police and the removal of cameras. When I served on the county council, I and other Labour councillors introduced a speed watch programme. It was great, but wearing high visibility jackets was hardly a deterrent to people speeding in our towns.

I would welcome more 20 mph zones in our town centres, which would send out a very clear message for more measured speeds in our town centres. I would like to see tougher sentences on people who fail to stop—the existing six months for leaving the scene of a crime is ridiculous. Likewise, the loophole for those who have 12 points on their licence is quite ridiculous, given the seriousness of their convictions. Finally, is it acceptable to have insurance products that insure someone against losing their licence? I would say not.