8. What assessment he has made of recent trends in road accident statistics. (900950)
The Department for Transport’s 2012 statistics show that the number of people killed in accidents reported to the police has decreased by 7.7%, from 1,901 in 2011 to 1,754 in 2012, the lowest figure on record, and today’s figures show further progress.
I am grateful to the Minister for that answer. He will be aware that 16% of all road deaths in Britain are caused by drink-driving, and that is after a 17% increase between 2011 and 2012. What are the Government doing to improve road safety by dealing with repeat drink-drivers? He will know that that is the subject of my ten-minute rule Bill, which is listed for a Second Reading on 22 November.
We have introduced measures to ensure that anyone disqualified for drink-driving twice in 10 years will be classed as a high-risk offender. High-risk offenders cannot get their licence back until doctors are satisfied that they are medically fit to drive again. The figures that my hon. Friend mentions are of concern, but they are against a trend of ever-reducing levels of fatality on our roads involving drink-driving.
The biggest killers of young people in the UK are road crashes. The Government have been promising a Green Paper, not a White Paper, on graduated licensing for young drivers since the spring. When are we likely to see it?
It is absolutely true that while young people make up 8% of drivers and account for 5% of miles driven on our roads, they account for 18% of accidents. We will publish the Green Paper before the end of the year.
The big increase in deaths related to drink-driving on the roads shows that we are not winning the battle against drink-driving. Is it not simply time to show our commitment to tackling drink-driving by introducing the recommendations of the North review and reducing the drink-driving limit?
Many countries in Europe have a lower drink-driving limit, but they also have lower penalties. I believe it would be a mistake to reduce our gold-standard penalty of disqualification for drink-driving, which could lead some people to perceive drink-driving as being on the same level as speeding or parking offences.
May I welcome the Minister to his new post? He mentioned the road casualty statistics published today. Is it not also the case that there was a 4% increase in the number of motorcyclists killed or seriously injured and a 12% increase in the number of cyclists killed or injured on our roads? The day after we heard of a further tragedy, is it not time, as we approach road safety week, for the Minister to tune into road safety himself, put the vulnerable first and introduce clear targets to cut the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads?
I in turn welcome the hon. Gentleman to his post and look forward to sparring with him across the Dispatch Box. There are certainly concerns about motorcycle deaths—motorcycles are particularly dangerous. We have targeted motorcyclists, in particular, in our Think! campaign. Of course, in some cases motorcycle deaths are very much related to the weather. In north Yorkshire, certainly, when we have a nice summer there are, sadly, an awful lot more motorcycle casualties. It is of concern that we are seeing more cycling casualties, and I have noted some of the accidents in London involving heavy lorries and cyclists. Some of that is due to the fact that there has been a big increase in the number of people cycling, but it is of concern and we are targeting our information campaigns on motorcyclists and cyclists.