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Volume 961: debated on Tuesday 23 January 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport what was the increase in the number of passenger coaches operating in England and Wales over the last five years and the number of accidents involving such coaches over the same period, expressing these latter figures as a percentage of the total of road accidents.

I regret that the information is not available in the precise form requested. The following information is available:

Public service vehicles operating at 31st DecemberPublic service vehicles involved in injury accidentsPublic service vehicles involved in injury accidents as a percentage of all motor vehicles involved in accidents
* Public service vehicles includes buses and coaches

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what special qualifications are required for drivers who drive coaches carrying children or elderly persons; if he is satisfied with them and with the safety of such coaches generally; and if he will make a statement.

The qualifications required of drivers of passenger vehicles are the same, whether or not they are carrying children or elderly persons. With the limited exception of certain minibuses, if the passengers are being carried for hire or reward the vehicle is a public service vehicle and its driver must hold a current and valid public service vehicle driving licence. Moreover, the driver of any vehicle with more than nine seats overall must be 21 years of age or over. Interested parties have been consulted about whether special qualifications should be required for drivers of vehicles with more than 17 seats overall not carrying passengers for hire and reward and consideration is being given to the possibility of a change.We take a close interest in all road safety matters, including those relating to coaches, and propose to examine very carefully the requirements for all coaches when implementing EEC directive 77/143 about roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and their trailers.