New Clause 15

Road Safety Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:15 am ar 20 Ebrill 2006.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Passenger side mirrors

‘All HGV vehicles, operating in the UK, must have a mirror positioned on the exterior of the vehicle on the passenger side, which enables the driver to have a full view of vehicles and other road users in the neighbouring lanes, when driving on all roads in the United Kingdom.'. —[Mr. Paterson.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Owen Paterson Owen Paterson Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

I am indebted to a near neighbour of the Minister’s—my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier)—for bringing this matter to my attention. It is not particularly controversial. It is partly to do with the welcome expansion of the European Union and the enormous increase in traffic between us and the continent.

The problem is simple. We have the steering wheel on the right-hand side of the vehicle, and on the continent  it is on the left. Continental trucks have no need for a wide-angled mirror on the passenger side when they are on the continent—but in the United Kingdom that is what would be the driver’s side.

The wife of my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury had a horrible experience when overtaking a Hungarian lorry on the M2 near the Minister’s constituency. She was pushed into the central barrier, and the young Hungarian driver was aghast and horrified at what had happened. His lorry was completely legal according to Hungarian regulations, but did not have a wide-angled mirror fitted to the passenger side of his lorry. As a result, he simply did not see her.

My hon. Friend had a similar constituency case, in which a man was overtaking a continental lorry in the fast lane. The lorry did not see him and pulled out. I am not sure which country the lorry driver came from,  but he was professional and had a good record; he was similarly horrified at what had happened.

I understand that an EU directive will make it compulsory for all new heavy goods vehicles to have wide-angled mirrors from 26 January 2007. The new clause is simple; it would require all HGVs in this country to have such mirrors fitted. It would make it mandatory. It is interesting that Holland and Belgium have already gone down that route. They have gone ahead of the Commission and made it compulsory to fit class 4 wide-angled mirrors to all HGVs. Analysis shows that the retrofitting of mirrors has been effective. There is clear anecdotal evidence of the danger. The directive as it stands is not good enough because it would apply only to new—

It being twenty-five minutes past Ten o’clock, The Chairmanadjourned the Committee without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned till this day at One o’clock.