A government Minister ruled out legislation to improve the safety of towed trailers on public roads, after Bristol South MP Karin Smyth raised the case of the family of three year-old Freddie Hussey in the Commons today (19 January).
But Andrew Jones, Andrew Jones, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, responded positively to a request from the Labour MP to meet with Freddie’s parents, Donna and Scott, who have campaigned on the issue since their son’s tragic death.
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Responding in a special debate called by Karin Smyth, the Minister suggested legislation to address trailer danger could be “disproportionately burdensome”, stating figures showed in 2014 there had been 1,257 road accidents involving towed vehicles, in which 39 fatalities and 214 serious injuries were involved. He promised to write to Karin Smyth with further data – that she had used the debate to request – to back his case.
But he set out a number of concessions to the Bristol South MP, pledging
• The Driver and Vehicle Safety Agency (DVSA) will review all the advice it publishes about trailer safety
• The Department for Transport will examine trends and patterns that are picked up at regular DVSA trailer checks in respect of trailer maintenance and use and, at the Minister’s request, will feedback directly to him
• He will consider how DVSA trailer guidance can be made to reach more people through motorists’ representative groups to help improve driver behaviour in relation to trailers
• The Department for Transport will study procedures in counterparts from EU countries to learn what lessons there may be from other countries. This is likely to include the value, or otherwise, of trailer roadworthiness tests.
Freddie Hussey was killed in January 2014 as he and his mother, Donna, walked home along Parson Street after dropping off Freddie’s older brother at school. A two tonne trailer became detached from a Land Rover and careered across the pavement, fatally crushing Freddie. His parents, Donna and Scott have been calling for the law to be changed to improve trailer safety.
After the debate Karin Smyth said: “Having spoken to them immediately after the debate I know Mr and Mrs Hussey are disappointed, if not surprised, that no law change to subject trailers to a roadworthiness test is currently planned. But it was clear the Minister took this issue very seriously and I am pleased he has agreed to meet them and that he has set out a number of clear actions that he has pledged to undertake.
“Like me and the Hussey family, he recognises that improvements to the safety of towed trailers are possible. I am determined we will make progress and I know my constituents can have a key role in helping bring those improvements about.
“I want this to be the start of a process of bringing the Hussey family’s experiences to the attention of decision-makers, and I know they are more than capable of contributing further in the weeks and months ahead.
“Freddie’s case was a tragedy of untold magnitude, but we remain resolute in our wish that some good comes of it.”
Please note: The debate adjourned from approx. 16.25 hrs and resumed again at approx. 16.50 hrs