Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, continues to press the Government to reverse their decision to scrap B+E car and trailer tests following confirmation from the House of Lords that there is not currently any statistical evidence on how road safety will be impacted if drivers to not need to take a statutory test to tow a trailer.
On the 29 November, Lord Bassam submitted a written question in the House of Lords asking the Government “what data they hold on the safety impact of the B+E car and trailer test”, but in her response, Baroness Vere of Norbiton, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Transport, was unable to categorically say that competence and skills will not worsen if drivers do not take a statutory test to tow a trailer.
Lord Bassam also asked what criteria will be used to review the impact on road safety of this legislation, but Baroness Vere of Norbiton failed to share the criteria, merely confirming a post-implementation review after three years will take place.
Karin Smyth has previously raised a number of written questions in the House of Commons. The Minister said in an answer to Ms Smyth that despite the Government cancelling B+E tests in September, until the law changes drivers must follow current rules. This means those who need to tow heavier trailers and would normally have taken a B+E tests are currently being guided to take a test usually reserved for Large Goods Vehicles, seemingly negating any testing capacity accrued from cancelling the B+E test.
In a debate in Parliament last night on the proposed legislation, Karin raised concerns the new regulation could see an increase in reckless and unsafe driving on our roads, yet the Government still voted to pass the legislation.
Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South and Chair of the APPG on Towing and Trailer Safety, said:
“With the Government having no statistical evidence regarding skills and competence when towing a trailer having taken or not taken a test, it will be extremely difficult to monitor the impact on road safety of this legislation when it is reviewed in 3 years time.
“I am extremely concerned that in the meantime towing accidents will increase as drivers will not have the skills or knowledge, which they would have previously acquired through taking the B+E test, to tow safely on our roads.
“It is clear the Government is entirely at sea with this ill-thought out and rushed legislation. Testing capacity is available, with almost 20% of slots unbooked in the week commencing 25 October, which given that scrapping the B+E test is designed to free up testing capacity really begs the question of why they are rushing this through without a full road safety impact assessment.
“The Government has made no real attempt to address the HGV crisis by improving conditions for drivers or encouraging those who hold licenses to take up jobs. Instead they have created this poorly thought through legislation which they are trying to push through before fully considering safety implications. This could have a devastating impact on road safety.”