Anne McGuire, MP for Stirling, has been named Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month by the charity Brake and Direct Line for her work highlighting the need to improve safety among foreign drivers to prevent devastating crashes. Anne’s call for action comes after the death of Andrew McLean, who was killed by a young French driver visiting the UK in September 2010.
Andrew McLean, 22, was a food delivery worker from Carnwath, South Lanarkshire. He was driving home from work when a car came towards him on the wrong side of the road. Andrew swerved to avoid the car, but the oncoming 23 year-old French driver instinctively steered in the same direction. The two cars collided, and Andrew died instantly. The other driver pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving. He was sentenced to 200 hours’ community service and given an 18-month driving ban.
Andrew’s family wanted to campaign for the government to improve safety among foreign drivers, including looking at how they could be stopped from driving on the wrong side of the road. This led Andrew’s grandmother Mrs Billet to contact Anne McGuire about the family’s concerns.
Anne raised the issue in a parliamentary question in November 2011, asking how many fatal road crashes had involved a foreign visitor driving on the wrong side of the road. The minister responded that “inexperience of driving on the left” was recorded as a factor in 55 fatal crashes in five years, but specific statistics on driving on the wrong side were unavailable.
In July 2012, Anne secured an adjournment debate in Parliament, where she called for the government to establish the facts about foreign drivers on the wrong side of the road. She also highlighted possible measures, such as appropriate warnings at points of entry and devices fitted to vehicles to warn drivers when they are in the wrong lane.
Road safety minister Mike Penning welcomed Anne’s debate and highlighted the importance of listening to families campaigning on road safety whose family members have been involved in road crashes. He has agreed to meet with Andrew’s family and Anne in October to discuss their campaign further. Read the debate.
Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: “Anne has brought an important road safety issue to Parliament’s attention following a terrible tragedy. It’s vital for all drivers to know the rules of the road and stick to them; this includes drivers from abroad, who must ensure they understand UK speed limits, road signs and that we drive on the left. We urgently need to investigate ways of helping foreign drivers to drive safely on UK roads, to prevent further needless loss of life and the anguish that follows. We’re pleased to present this award to Anne, and to back Andrew’s family in their campaign for action.”
Anne McGuire, MP for Stirling, said: "With increasing number of foreign drivers using Britain's roads, it is important that we know whether there is a major problem. At the moment, we are just not sure. I welcome the Minister's frankness in stating that he was surprised at the lack of meaningful statistics. Any lapse of concentration from those who are used to driving on the right hand side of the road can result in tragedy, and we should look at what measures are needed to ensure their safety and that of other drivers and road users.”