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M1 (Anti-Dazzle Screen)

Volume 649: debated on Wednesday 22 November 1961

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3.

asked the Minister of Transport what has been the result of the monitoring by the Road Research Laboratory of the experiment with an expanded metal anti-dazzle screen on M.1; and if he will now extend the screen for the full length of the motorway.

Studies made by the Road Research Laboratory have confirmed the efficiency of the screen in preventing dazzle from oncoming vehicles. The laboratory also keeps a check on its effect on accidents. There is so far insufficient evidence for them to reach a conclusion on this.

For the reasons given in my Answer to the hon. and gallant Member for The Hartlepools (Commander Kerans) on 15th November, I am not prepared at present to extend the screen on M.1 or to install a screen on other motorways.

Does my right hon. Friend recall that it was eleven months ago that I was told by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary that the Road Research Laboratory was monitoring this experiment? How long does it take to complete monitoring and reach a conclusion? With reference to the Answer my right hon. Friend gave to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for The Hartlepools (Commander Kerans), would not my right hon. Friend agree that what he described as the danger and discomfort from dazzle in the driving mirror from lights of following vehicles is very much less than the danger and discomfort from headlights of approaching vehicles, and that the light from following vehicles can easily be eliminated by having an adjustment on the rear view mirror?

We have examined all the motoring magazines to see what the correspondents have said and find that opinion is divided between having and not having a screen. Everyone has his own opinion about this, but the Road Research Laboratory says that a screen which is good for oncoming traffic has the disadvantage that vehicles behind do not dip their headlights and their lights are shown in the driving mirror.

Will my right hon. Friend have experiments carried out with amber headlights such as are used in France? Is he aware that they do not dazzle and are very much better in fog? Will he take his bicycle and ride about the roads at night in France and use his own eyes?

I take my bicycle to France and ride about there. The Road Research Laboratory has tested the amber light and rejected it.

Does the Minister accept the proposition that the dazzle from headlights is difficult and dangerous when the headlights are on-coming and also when they are coming from behind, but the fact that a device protects one from the first and does not protect one from the second is no reason for not having such protection as one can have?

The accumulated evidence collected by the Road Research Laboratory and the police suggests that the balance of advantage is with keeping motorways as they are, but if they decide that the balance of advantage is the other way, I shall consider the matter.