Parliament set for road safety debate

13.45 | 5 November 2018 |

Jesse Norman, road safety minister, speaking at Young Driver Focus in April 2018

The House of Commons is set for a road safety debate this afternoon – with MPs likely to discuss funding, increasing traffic levels and driver behaviour campaigns.

The debate, which Road Safety News understands will not feature any major new announcements, takes place in the main chamber with road safety minister, Jesse Norman, in attendance.

However Lilian Greenwood, chair of the Transport Committee, confirmed on Twitter this morning that she will not be present.

The session gets underway at 2.30pm – with a number of items on the agenda before the road safety debate. (Click here to watch)

What’s likely to be discussed?
Today’s debate on road safety has been organised following recent interest in the subject from MPs.

In last week’s budget, the Government announced a £420m fund to help local councils repair potholes – while earlier this month it unveiled plans for a ‘new and improved’ Highway Code, designed to help keep cyclists and pedestrians safe on the roads.

With winter on the horizon, potholes could be debated by MPs

A Local Government Association (LGA) briefing note published ahead of the debate references the new pothole fund – as well as the Safer Roads Fund, which has featured heavily in the media over the last few weeks.

The DfT launched the Safer Roads Fund in January 2017 – pledging to provide local authorities with a share of £175m to improve safety on the 50 highest risk local A road sections in England.

However, in June 2018, road safety minister Jesse Norman told MPs that local authorities had received a total of £100m in response to bids – and that the remaining £75m of the fund was ‘not required’.

Last week, the Road Safety Foundation published a new report calling on the Government to extend the fund in order to address 40 ‘persistently higher risk roads’ as a matter of urgency.

A separate report jointly published by the Road Safety Foundation and RAC Foundation last month suggests the £100m Safer Roads Fund investment is on course to prevent almost 1,450 road deaths and serious injuries over the next two decades.

At the same time, Labour questioned the Government as to the whereabouts of the £75m left unspent from the fund.

The LGA briefing note also suggests MPs will debate increasing traffic levels and driver behaviour campaigns.

What do stakeholders and campaign groups want to see included?
David Ward, secretary general of Global NCAP, says that MPs should focus on stalled progress on fatal and serious injury reduction – and is calling for a new UK target to halve deaths and serious injuries by 2030.

The British Horse Society (BHS) is urging MPs to ensure the safety needs of equestrians are not overlooked – following the DfT’s ‘failure to mention the safety of horse riders’ when announcing updates to the Highway Code on 18 October.

The BHS is lobbying MPs to use the debate as an opportunity to question why the review is set to only empower cyclists and pedestrians, while ignoring the needs of equestrians.

In the lead up to the debate, the BHS called on its members to write to their local MPs to highlight the issue.

Alan Hiscox, director of safety, BHS, said: “To improve the safety of all vulnerable road users it is vital that MPs ask that consideration is given to review and strengthen the wording of Section 163 (overtaking) and Section 215 (horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles).  

“The advice and guidance should not only explain why drivers should take extra care and slow down when passing horses but also the consequences of passing too close and too fast.”



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