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Accident Statistics

Volume 21: debated on Wednesday 7 April 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will give the latest figures for accidents involving pedestrians, motor vehicles and motor cycles.

Casualty figures are more useful than accident figures, because an accident can involve more than one type of vehicle. In the year ending September 1981 there were an estimated 61,800 pedestrian casualties—5 per cent. fewer than in the previous 12 months. There were 70,200 motor cyclist casualties and 168,500 casualties in other motor vehicles—a reduction of 2 per cent. in each case compared with the previous 12 months.

I welcome the reduction that my hon. Friend has announced. Does she agree that in 1981 rather more than 15,000 pedestrians were hit by cars or motor bikes during the hours of darkness? In those circumstances, what is she doing to initiate a campaign to persuade pedestrians, especially in country areas, to make themselves more visible at night by wearing either a white belt or light coloured garments?

There is at present no specific campaign, because of the pressure on resources for the "Think Bike" campaign and all the other safety campaigns. I am well aware how good reflective belts are, and I urge all pedestrians to wear them to reduce the number of accidents.

In view of the appalling and still rising number of motor cycle accidents and the importance of training motor cyclists, what plans do the Government have to replace the RAC-ACU training scheme in view of the introduction of the two-stage driving test system?

There is on the Order Paper another question on that subject. I shall be speaking on this matter tomorrow. I assure my hon. Friend that resources that would have gone to the RAC-ACU training scheme will be put to excellent use in furthering the training of young motor cyclists to reduce accidents.

In what percentage of the cases that the hon. Lady has cited was alcohol a factor? If she cannot give the figure off the top of her head, will she investigate the matter?

From the figures that are readily available, I understand that about 30 per cent. of the people involved in fatal accidents were suffering from an excess of alcohol above the permitted limit. I wish to examine the figures in greater detail than I have so far been able to do, and I shall take up the hon. Gentleman's suggestion.

Will the Under-Secretary confirm that during the last financial year the road construction budget was £100 million underspent? Does she agree that that money could have been spent on bypasses and a better road maintenance system?

I accept that less money than anticipated was spent because of lower tendering prices. Nevertheless, the Government have spent more money on more bypasses this year than at any time since roads of that type have been built.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You seem to have missed question No. 2.