By John Leech MP - 21st February 2012
John Leech MP calls for a number of provisions to improve road safety in a bid to save lives, reduce pollution and inspire younger generations to be fitter and healthier.
The bill concentrates on four main areas that will help to save lives, reduce pollution and inspire younger generations to be fitter and healthier. It may sound ambitious but in reality it is not a big step and will simply bring this country in line with the rest of the world.
The first part of the bill calls for drivers to undertake an eye test when renewing their licence. The International Glaucoma Association states that a person can lose up to 40 per cent of their vision before realising any change has occurred, while research from BRAKE found that 20 per cent of us have had at least one accident driving as a result of poor eyesight. We currently have no legal requirement to check our vision: introducing an eye test upon licence renewal would bring us closer to standards in the rest of Europe and help prevent accidents and deaths on British roads. Surveys have consistently proven widespread support from the general public for the introduction of obligatory eye tests for drivers.
Next, the bill proposes to reduce the permitted blood alcohol level from 80mg of blood to 50mg, the benefits of which should be obvious. Drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of between 0.02 and 0.05 (the proposed level) have at least a three-times greater risk of dying in a vehicle crash, but this already significant risk leaps to at least six times for those drivers with a BAC of between 0.05 and 0.08 (the current level). By reducing the BAC level in this country to a level that is seen as the norm throughout most of the world, we could effectively halve the risk of dying in a vehicle crash in this country.
The third part of the bill concentrates on the odometer in vehicles, making it a criminal offence to turn it back except in specified circumstances. Adjusting the odometer that records a car’s mileage (car clocking) is estimated to cost the consumer up to £580m a year through its impact on the sale price and unanticipated cost of repairs due to the car’s ‘false’ youth, not to mention the potential dangers of selling an older car as newer. It’s time to end this con.
Lastly, but not by no means least, the bill doffs its cap to Sustrans, making provision for safe, healthy, environmentally friendly passage for children to and from school on foot, by bicycle or with public transport. Increasing children's safety on our roads should be top priority and this bill supports that.
I am a strong believer that this bill can make a tangible difference to our society, preventing unnecessary accidents and deaths on British roads. I hope that you share my belief and will actively show your support for it.
John Leechis MP for Manchester Withington and has a significant track record in road safety campaigning, including being awarded Parliamentarian of the Year 2008 by Brake.