Committee for the Environment - Responses

Committee Response To Road Safety Strategy Proposals

Environment Committee Office
Room 245
Parliament Buildings
Tel 028 9052 1347
Fax 028 9052 1795

Sammy Wilson
Minister of the Environment
Clarence Court
Adelaide Street
03 July 2008

Dear Minister


At its meeting on 26 June the Committee for the Environment considered the previous Minister’s statement on 10 January that she would review the current Road Safety strategy. The Minister made several proposals and asked for the Committee’s response. The Committee then wrote to 20 key stakeholders to gauge their views on the proposals and received 12 responses before formulating their response below:

Proposals for Driver Training, Testing and Licensing

The Committee supports proposals for a graduated licensing scheme with the focus on driver hours and drivers gaining driving experience, including experience of night driving and adverse conditions. The Committee also supports the introduction of a learner driver logbook.

The Committee supports increasing awareness of post test training with increased awareness of further driver training with Government encouragement for the Pass Plus training scheme for new drivers which could lead to discounted insurance.

Members indicated broad support for increased alcohol and drugs awareness programmes and experience of motorway driving for learners.

Graduated Fixed Penalty and Deposit Scheme

The Committee indicated broad support for this proposal but would welcome more information as to whether such a scheme has acted as a deterrent in other parts of Europe where it has been introduced.

Members also indicated support for a deposit scheme which requires non-UK resident drivers of commercial vehicles to pay an on the spot deposit equal to the amount of the fixed penalty or equal to the maximum fine for offences which are not dealt with by fixed penalties.

Graduated Penalties for Speeding Drivers

The Committee supports the principle of graduated penalties for speeding drivers but would welcome some level of flexibility within this proposal. Members feel that more information on the bandings of the levels of exceeded speed would be useful as would more information on reducing the number of penalty points for marginally exceeding a speed limit and for increasing the number of penalty points from three to six for more serious speeding offences.

Members have also requested clarification on the definitions of “marginally” and “more serious speeding offences”.

The Committee feels that speed signage shortcomings need to be addressed.

Members also felt that a programme of education is needed.

Drink Driving

The Committee feel that it is imperative that the drink driving limit is enforced on both sides of the border to ensure consistency. This may involve a media awareness campaign.

Members support the proposal to lower the blood alcohol limit to 50mg for most drivers and to lower the limit to 20mg for inexperienced drivers, LGV drivers and motorcycle riders.

The Committee further supports the proposal for powers for random breath testing but, whilst members support the general principle of alcohol ignition interlocks for repeat offenders, they would like more information on the effectiveness of this idea in other parts of Europe and elsewhere.

Mutual Recognition of Driving Disqualifications

The Committee supports the proposal for mutual recognition of driving disqualifications.

Mutual Recognition of Lesser Offences

The Committee supports these proposals but would welcome a clear definition of ‘lesser offences’.

The Committee would welcome further information on the feasibility study (when completed) on options to deal with these offences.

Licensing of Operators

The Committee supports the licensing of operators proposal and are currently conducting scrutiny of the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Bill.

Revised Highway Code

The Committee supports the proposal to publish a significantly revised version of the Highway Code.

Management of Driving for Work

The Committee supports the proposal to explore the development of a publicity campaign to encourage employers to develop a driving for work policy but would like further information on how this would be implemented.

Further Views

The Committee recommends that the Minister introduce a practical Road Safety education programme to make children and young people aware of all road dangers.

The proposals do not mention cycling and the Committee feel that cycling and pedestrians need to be factored into the strategy and that consideration should be given by the Department to the mandatory wearing of cycle helmets.

The Committee has requested sight of any evidence the Department has, or will in future obtain, relating to the wearing of cycle helmets and road injuries.

The Committee also feel that signage systems for speed limits North and South of the border need to be clear and consistent, particularly at border crossing areas.

Yours Sincerely

Patsy McGlone 
Chairperson – Committee for the Environment

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