John asked Lib Dem MP Danny Alexander to end his campaign against efforts to reduce the toll of deaths and injuries on the A9, after learning that the police have no evidence to support Alexander’s claim that average speed cameras on the A9 are causing ‘rat running’ on other local roads.
Last November Danny Alexander told journalists that motorists had taken to driving at high speeds on roads such as the B9152, part of the old A9, in order to evade the cameras. So John consulted Police Scotland’s head of road policing, Chief Superintendent Iain Murray, who told him that neither police patrols nor local communities have reported any changes in road use.
58 people died and 196 were seriously injured on the A9 between 2008 and 2012. Average Speed Cameras were installed in October last year as part of a large project to improve safety, and the Scottish Government report that they have already cut excessive speeding from one in ten vehicles to less than 1 in 700. When average speed cameras were piloted on a 34-mile stretch of the A77 in Ayrshire, road deaths were reduced by 46%.
John patrolled the old A9 in his former career as a Northern Constabulary police officer. He said:
“All the evidence indicates that it’s irresponsible driver behaviour, often excessive speed, rather than road design, that’s responsible for the unacceptable levels of deaths and injuries on the A9.
“We all must work together to reduce that toll and what won’t help is irresponsible words from Danny Alexander, whose real agenda is party political.
“Mr Alexander alleges that, in order to evade the speed cameras, drivers were using ‘rat runs’ minor roads, such as the old A9, to somehow circumvent the efforts to control speeds.
“I have spoken with Police Scotland’s Head of Road Policing, Chief Superintendent Iain Murray, about this suggestion and I’m advised that not only did the police find no evidence from their patrols that this was taking place, but communities along the route advised they hadn’t seen changes in road use.
“Mr Alexander is entitled to his views on the effectiveness of average speed cameras, even if they fly in the face of evidence from elsewhere. What he can’t do is invent stories which could undermine efforts to improve road safety.
“People understand Danny Alexander is desperate to get re-elected, but what I am asking is for him to reflect on his political targets.
“If he succeeds in undermining the multi-agency road safety campaign on the A9 – not only the average speed cameras but also the mobile camera van and both high visibility and unmarked police patrols – then the consequence will be more injuries and deaths.
“If he can’t support those working to save lives, then the best public service he provide is to remain silent on this subject for the few months he has left of this term in office.”