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Road safety

Volume 714: debated on Tuesday 10 May 2022

The petition of residents of the constituency of Batley and Spen,

Declares that the issue of road safety within the constituency must be urgently addressed; notes that there has been a significant rise in the number of speeding offences, incidents of reckless driving throughout and inconsiderate parking in the constituency; declares that sympathy should be extended to the victims of road incidents and their families; declares that this issue has had an enormous impact in our community and demands urgent action be taken at a National, Regional and Local level to improve the safety of our local roads.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to provide dedicated resource to Kirklees Council and West Yorkshire Police to clamp down on dangerous driving and consider a review into the impact of high-performance cars rented and driven recklessly. The House of Commons should also urge the Government to explore what legislative measures should be taken to improve the safety of roads in Batley and Spen.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Kim Leadbeater, Official Report, 26 April 2022; Vol. 712, c. 733.]

[P002727]

Observations from Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Vere of Norbiton):

The Government believe that any form of dangerous or inconsiderate driving behaviour is a serious road safety issue. All available research shows a link between excessive speed and the risk of collisions.

We expect all drivers to observe the speed limit and follow The Highway Code. Generally, it is for the police to enforce road traffic legislation and investigate road traffic incidents using their professional judgement. Chief officers will consider the role that roads policing and motoring law enforcement has to play in improving driving standards, promoting road safety, deterring careless and dangerous driving and reducing deaths and injuries on the road. It is important that at all times the chief officer, the constables, and staff remain operationally independent.

It is also the function of elected Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to make forces truly accountable to their communities by representing all those who live and work in their area. It is for PCCs to identify local needs and, in consultation with the chief constable, draw up a five-year Police and Crime Plan which sets out the local policing priorities. The chief constable, retaining operational independence, will then deploy resources according to the priorities agreed in the policing plan. Local residents, their elected representatives and the police can discuss these matters together.

The majority of central Government funding for local government is not ring-fenced. This is so that local authorities can make the best decisions relating to local priorities, which could include spending decisions on speed cameras.

Local authorities with civil parking enforcement powers (CPE) are responsible for parking enforcement on the roads under their care. Over 98% of local authorities in England, including Kirklees Metropolitan Council of which Batley and Spen is part of, have CPE powers and can issue Penalty Charge Notices to vehicles that are in contravention of parking restrictions. Councils with CPE powers can enforce against contraventions listed in Schedule 7 of the Traffic Management Act 2004.

Many reputable firms which rent out high performance vehicles adhere to the codes of practice set out by the British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association vehicles and already place restrictions upon drivers. These can include a minimum driver age limit of 25 or 30 to be able to rent, or a requirement to have had a driving licence for at least three years.

Many high-performance vehicles are fitted with telematics devices, such as black boxes. It may be possible to use data from the telematics device if the vehicle is involved in a collision.

The Road Traffic Act 1988 provides for various offences of dangerous and careless driving, and the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 specifies the penalties for such offences. Also, under the Police Reform Act 2002, officers can seize vehicles being driven carelessly or inconsiderately, or off the road, and in a manner causing, or being likely to cause alarm, distress or annoyance to members of the public. Under the Sentencing Act 2020, the police can ask for a Criminal Behaviour Order to be imposed in addition to a sentence other than an absolute discharge.