John welcomes police commitment on dangerously slow driving

John Finnie three-quarterJohn Finnie has urged police to take seriously the issue of dangerously slow driving on roads like the A82, and says he welcomes Police Scotland’s positive response.

John wrote to Police Scotland leadership to raise the issue of slow driving, which is especially prevalent on scenic roads during the tourist season.

In reply, the Local Area Commander for road policing in the North, Chief Inspector Louis Blakelock, recognised the problem, saying:

“You correctly raise the point that inappropriate speed, like driving too slow, does as you suggest lead to frustration and irresponsible driver behaviour.

“Driving slowly, causing tailbacks and frustration is a behaviour that falls within the provisions of Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (Careless Driving) and this type of behaviour is one that is routinely addressed by Police Officers patrolling the A82 and other roads.

“I wish to reassure you that Police Officers tasked with patrolling the A82 will be made aware of your concerns and they will continue to challenge inappropriate speed in the circumstances you describe as part of their core duties on the A82 and other trunk roads”

John said:

“While excessive speed remains one of the biggest threats to safety on our roads, driving too slowly on trunk roads is also a significant problem.

“During tourist season especially, queues can readily form on our trunk roads behind vehicles travelling 30mph whose occupants are effectively sight-seeing.

“This of course causes great frustration and can lead to increased danger from behaviours such as irresponsible overtaking.

“I’m pleased with Ch Insp Blakelock’s positive response to the issue, and I hope the increase in dedicated Road Policing Officers will help keep vital roads like the A82 flowing smoothly and safely.”

A9 speed camera results should end the political game-playing

John Finnie three-quarterData from the three months since average speed cameras were installed on the A9 and the HGV speed limit raised were released today, showing that excessive speeding has collapsed by 97% and journey time reliability has improved.

John has welcomed the huge success of the changes, and hopes the figures should finally put an end to the “political game-playing” that has seen some politicians seek to derail the multi-agency safety campaign.

He said:

“The facts and figures released today show that the installation of average speed cameras and the increase of the HGV speed limit have been a huge success.

“On Scotland’s most notorious road, excessive speeding is down by a huge 97%. Overall speeding is down from one in three drivers to one in twenty. Journey times are more reliable, and the Road Haulage Association say road freight is moving quicker and more smoothly than before.

“This is fantastic news for all users of the A9, which after only three months is already a safer and more reliable route.

“This evidence should put an end to the political games that some have been playing with the safety of A9 users over the last few years. The facts show how unfounded the politically-motivated rumours and scare stories have been.

“I hope now that if any candidate wants to gain political advantage from the A9, they should do it by working as hard as they can to support the multi-agency safety efforts that are saving lives.

“The A9 Safety Partnership should be very proud of what they have achieved for the people of the Highlands. However, their job is made that much harder by rising traffic volumes. As well as giving full support to the safety programme, the Scottish Government should relieve pressure on the A9 by doubling the railway line between Inverness and Perth.”

John asks Danny Alexander to stop campaign against A9 safety

John Finnie 2John 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.”