Skip to main content


Volume 504: debated on Thursday 28 January 2010

I am aware of the recent fatal accident at East Winch, and I extend every sympathy to the families and friends of those killed. As part of the strategic road network, the established procedures are being followed, which involves the Highways Agency undertaking a fatal accident study following any police investigation, which may identify recommendations for safety improvements.

I thank the Minister for that reply and for expressing his regrets at what was an horrendous double fatality. What are the prospects for that stretch of road being dualled? Can he ensure that when the Highways Agency sets up its safety audit it looks specifically at reducing the speed limit and installing more fibre optic flashing warning signs?

Obviously, recommendations may be made arising from the investigation by the police and the Highways Agency. There are no plans to dual that part of the A47, which is, overall, one of the safer stretches of A road in our country, as is indicated by the figures on personal injury in accidents. However, any lessons that can be learned arising from a fatality will of course be taken on board.

Some of the worst accidents on this type of road are head-on collisions, when frustrated motorists attempt to overtake lorries in dangerous locations. The speed limit for large goods vehicles on single carriageway trunk roads is 20 mph slower than that for cars. Would narrowing that gap improve road safety?

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that that matter is part of the work we have done in the new road safety strategy for 2011 and beyond, particularly in relation to the types of roads referred to by the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk (Mr. Bellingham) and the Opposition Front-Bench spokesman. We are aware that single carriage, rural A roads account for proportionately more deaths given the volume of traffic on them, which is why we are looking at a range of issues. We are considering the specific point raised by the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr. Goodwill), but equally, there is a view that such a change would not help and that it would lead to further accidents.