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Dangerous Driving

Volume 565: debated on Thursday 27 June 2013

We are taking forward the measures set out in the strategic framework for road safety. In 2012, a new offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving came into force. We are also creating a new drug-driving offence and will consult on the limits shortly. We have also consulted on changes to make the enforcement of drink-driving laws more effective. Additionally, we intend to publish a Green Paper on young drivers later this year.

My hon. Friend will be aware that in certain areas of our country there are drivers who have never taken a driving test. Has his Department investigated the potential benefits of requiring drivers to take a test every five or 10 years in order to reduce such incidents and make our roads safer by removing those who drive illegally?

The Department has not investigated the potential benefits of that. We do not regard it as a priority, partly because if those people are driving illegally, they are unlikely to take the test. However, I can reassure my hon. Friend that we take illegal driving very seriously, and that the automatic number plate recognition system is helping us to crack down on illegal drivers.

Does the Minister now regret the axing of the targets on deaths and serious accidents on the roads, particularly in the light of the first increases in both categories for more than 10 years?

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is out of touch. If he looks at the 2012 figures published this morning, he will see that deaths and serious injuries have reverted to the trend we had expected, and have fallen.

When will the Minister’s Department implement part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 to prevent dangerous driving and to allow the prosecution of those who drive in cycle lanes and commit other moving traffic offences?

My hon. Friend will be pleased to hear that we are having cross-departmental discussions on the matter. No decision has been taken yet, but I hope we will come to a conclusion in the near future.

When the Government announced trials of 80 mph limits on our motorways, there was dismay at the prospect of higher emissions, higher costs for drivers and collisions at higher speeds. The Minister announced in a recent speech that the trials were still on track, whereas the Secretary of State suggested in a press interview last Sunday that they were off the table. If there is one thing we need in road safety, it is clarity. Will the Minister tell us whether the Government are still pressing ahead with such a dangerous policy?

The Government made an initial assessment of the possibility of introducing trials of 80 mph limits, but it is not a priority. What is a priority for this Government is the transformational investment that is delivering growth and road safety. Yesterday’s announcement by the Chancellor will give us the means to deliver that transformational change.