London, 11 Apr 2000.
For immediate release.

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Blunkett 'In A Spin' Over School Run
ABD Condemns Attack on Freedom of Choice for Mothers
Education and Employment Minister David Blunkett was recently called in to bolster government anti-car propaganda by claiming that parents were responsible for one-third of car pollution by choosing to drive their children to school.

The Association of British Drivers (ABD) condemns this statement as misleading, and the advice which accompanied it - to use public transport instead - as out of touch and misguided. It does not simply attack drivers but cuts to the very heart of parents', right to choose the best schools and threatens to restrict the choices for mothers - especially single mothers - to continue their careers.

ABD Science & Environment spokesman Bernard Abrams draws attention to the contrast between spin and substance on these issues:

"Opting for public transport is more harmful to the environment than taking a modern car. Even allowing for their greater passenger carrying capacity, the fact that buses operate more than half-empty in empty bus lanes is only part of the story - a typical diesel bus emits 128 times as much particulate pollution as a modern car, and 38 times as much acidic oxides of nitrogen. Then there is the matter of bus emissions containing 3-nitrobenzanthrone, one of the most carcinogenic chemicals known. Using a modern car for the school run is the green option here."

On hearing the DfEE statement, ABD Roads and Traffic spokesman Mark McArthur-Christie commented:

"Given that traffic volumes on major urban routes fell by 1% in 1998 and that this trend continued through 1999, it's clear that government-inspired local transport initiatives, best described as traffic mismanagement, are creating congestion which is then blamed on mums taking their children to school. As the RAC has pointed out, unlike America, there is little alternative over here. Public transport is expensive, unreliable, inflexible, unsafe, polluting and generally unpleasant. What rational parent would choose this rather than a safe, clean, green car?"

ABD Chairman Brian Gregory continues:

"Government Ministers are keen to use cars for short journeys and we ask why the rest of us should be prevented from following this example if they wish? There is no environmental or other reason NOT to use a car - buses even lose out on the sustainability argument, as Automotove Advisers and Associates (Hilden, Germany) have shown that public transport uses 60% more energy per person conveyed than private transport alternatives. Health scares over asthma have also been proved false - as air quality has improved continuously since 1991, asthma cases have risen, so either cleaner air causes asthma or there is another explanation."

Spokesman Nigel Humphries concludes:

"Many parents have no choice but to take their children to school by car, as it is too far to walk or the parent has to drop off the children on the way to work. To take away the school run option from parents is to remove the choice of schools, leaving parents in the position where they must send their children to the only school served by a bus. Mothers, especially single mothers of small children who are too young to stand at bus stops on their own, may no longer be able to work if they are prevented from dropping children off at school".

 

Notes for Editors