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In addition, the Department is preparing to consult the haulage industry on the UK domestic drivers hours rules. That consultation will include discussion of driver fatigue and possible means to manage it. A leaflet—“Think! Tiredness can kill”—has been distributed to clinics treating sleep disorders. Copies are included in the Smart Tachograph packs issued by the DVLA to lorry drivers, and in operator packs issued by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency. Banner adverts about the condition have been placed on the DirectGov motoring
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page and an animated message runs at DVLA local offices that are used by the public.

Our “Think!” campaign has produced a range of materials on driver tiredness, including radio adverts broadcast last year to reach a working driver audience. By September 2014, all group 2 drivers will have to complete 35 hours of training every five years for their certificate of professional competence. Part of the syllabus addresses physical fitness and healthy lifestyle, and includes the effects of fatigue.

To answer my hon. Friend’s final specific question, the DVLA already engages with the medical profession in several ways to heighten awareness of OSA. It has provided an e-mail transmission message that was issued directly to GPs on the subject. It provides an “At a Glance Guide”, which is aimed at medical professionals but is also available to the general public. The DVLA’s animated message in its local offices specifically suggests that individuals mention OSA when seeking medical advice. The DVLA’s senior medical adviser is in close contact with the British Sleep Society about OSA and other sleep disorders and driving.

There is already a system whereby the police can notify the DVLA when they suspect that a medical condition of any kind is relevant to a driving-related incident. Some 3,500 such reports are made annually, covering a range of medical conditions. Those reports are treated as a high priority and are always investigated.
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Most relate to ordinary and not commercial licence holders. The Department is trying to improve the police notification system further.

In conclusion, I appreciate the Tweddell family’s concern that their son was tragically lost in spite of all the measures that we have in place and the fact that they would want to improve them. I can assure the House that we keep under constant consideration the various practical ways in which we can ensure that road safety is not compromised by people who are not fit to drive. The House knows that reducing the casualty toll on our roads is a priority. Our current strategy has improved road safety significantly, reducing the numbers of deaths and serious injuries by 36 per cent. over the past decade.

But eight deaths a day is still appalling. It is too many and we need to make our roads safer still. “A Safer Way”, the consultation document that was launched last month, proposes a new approach to road safety, ambitious new casualty reduction targets and a number of new measures to assist in achieving those targets. It also proposes a long-term vision to make Britain’s roads the safest in the world once again. I encourage all those who are interested in road safety to read the document and to join in the debate. I also look forward to meeting my hon. Friend and her colleagues in due course.

Question put and agreed to.

1.51 am

House adjourned.

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