Mr. Morrison's Statement on the Traffic Act
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When the Sections Will Come Into Force. Offices for the Area Commissioners. Applications for Vehicle Licences Co-ordinating Public Transport Services. New Driving Licences. Third-party Insurance. Construction and Use of Vehicles
THE Minister of Transport, Mr. Herbert Morrison, made a statement to us last week "concerning the present position of the Road Traffic Act, the times at which the various sections will come into force and as to the details of certain of the regulations:
The Act itself contains a good deal of detail, but very considerable powers are left to the Minister. This is inevitable, as traffic conditions change so rapidly.
The position of the Ministry of Transport is that it is fully representative of the views of every section of the public, favouring no particular mode of transport.
Regulations Made by the Minister.
Most of the regulations that are being made can be brought into force by the action of the Minister, but they must be laid on the table of the House of Commons for) 28 Parliamentary days. One or two, such as the Highway Code, require affirmative resolutions from both Houses of Parliament.
It was originally stated that Part 1 of the Act would probably be brought into force on November 1st, but a great deal of work has still to be done, and it is necessary to have new application forms for drivers' licences and the new licences. Therefore, the date has been changed to December 1st.
Part 2, concerning third-party insurance, will take effect, as previously stated, on January 1st, and it is expected that Part 3, dealing with the amendment of the law relating to highways, will also be ready by January 1st, although it is necessary to obtain the aforementioned affirmative resolutions.
Part 4, dealing with the regulation of public-service vehicles, is not likely to take effect until April 1st, the same date applying to Part 5, which deals with the running of public-service vehicles by local authorities.
Active steps have been taken to obtain the 12 chairmen of the Traffic Commissioners and their certifying officers. For the former positions 2,000 applications have already been received, and the names of • those selected will probably be announced at the end of November. Suitable premises are being obtained, and the addresses of the offices will be available well before that date.
Duties of the Traffic Commissioners.
The work of the Commissioners will be to effect coordination between the various systems of publicservice vehicles and to fit in the schedules of times of • services, so that the present short and long intervals, which so often occur between vehicles on a single route, will be evened up. Operators will also be encouraged to fit in road services with railway services, but there will be no dictatorial action in persuading the public to use this or that form of transport ; waste, however, will have to be avoided.
It is hoped that by April 1st a good start will have been made In the new licensing arrangements, and applications for licences should be submitted as early as possible before this date—in fact, directly the addresses of the Commissioners are available.
So far as drivers' licences are concerned, two disabilities will be an absolute bar to driving. These are extremely defective sight and the liability to disabling
fits. The onus -of stating such disability rests on the applicant for the licence, and he will not be tested at that time, but only if his actions show that tests are necessary. If he be in any way doubtful he should obtain professional advice before completing his application. The sight test will probably be set as the ability to read a motorcar number plate in ordinary daylight at a certain distance, say, 30-35 yards. A disabled driver must sign a declaration to say that his driving is not a source of danger, but in the case of a new applicant for a licence he will be required to pass a test agreed upon by the motor organizations and the association representing the disabled men. This test will probably consist of reversing into an assigned position, stopping within a reasonable distance and stopping on a steep incline.
Points Concerning Licences and Insurance.
Existing drivers' licences will run their course and the new licences will then come into force.
With regard to cases of dangerous driving, the Court can disqualify the driver for a first offence, and for a subsequent offence it must do so.
With reference to third-party insurance, the certificate of security or insurance will be of a prescribed pattern, and on and after January 1st must be produced when application is made for the vehicle licence. The certificate will apply to the particular vehicle, but it will show which drivers are covered. It will be an offence not to produce the certificate on demand, but five days' grace will be given.
The draft regulations on the construction and use of motor vehicles are very detailed. Preliminary discussions, at which representatives of the police, users, manufacturers and others were present, took place last Tuesday, and the chief clauses are as follow : Construction and Use of Motor Vehicles.
A. The elimination of all steel tyres on vehicles and trailers, except where particularly large individual loads have to be carried. All motorcars and heavy motorcars should be provided with pneumatic tyres within a reasonable period, and all newly registered passenger vehicles must have pneumatic tyres.
B. To explore whether all windscreens and front windows shall be of unsplinterable glass, this applying to both public-service and private vehicles.
C. It is proposed that, at an early date, lorries and vans should be provided with side guard rails, as are now required for buses and coaches.
D. To 'give effect to the recommendations made by the Departmental Committee on the Licensing and Regulation of Public-service Vehicles, which were issued in 1925. The Minister will not be bound to detail, but the Report will form the basis, and most of the clauses have already been adopted.
The drafting of the Highway Code is not very far advanced and is unlikely to be ready before the early part of next year. It will include maxims and rules concerning the use of the roadway and illustrations of signals required to be given by drivers and those in control of traffic. It will also take into consideration the report of the Royal Commission on Transport.