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Road Safety

Volume 886: debated on Monday 17 February 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is satisfied with the progress of his policy for improving road safety; and if he will make a statement.

The total number of road casualties fell in 1974 for the second year running. The overall casualty rate per vehicle mile has been declining for some years and is one of the lowest in the world. Yet in the first 11 months of last year 80,461 people were killed or seriously injured in road accidents. No Minister responsible for road safety could be satisfied with this, and a number of further measures are needed.The compulsory wearing of seat belts could save over 1,000 lives and prevent about 12,000 serious injuries every year. The drinking and driving law is at present being reviewed by a committee under the chairmanship of Mr. F. A. Blennerhassett, QC, and I understand it is making good progress with a difficult task. Following local authority reorganisation, and the enactment of Section 8 of the Road Traffic Act 1974, road safety officers of local authorities have increased responsibility, especially for remedial measures at places with bad accident records, and for education and training of road users. As well as producing a valuable saving in fuel consumption, the speed limits I announced on 9th December last should lead to a further reduction in casualty rates.