Safety on the A9

When I was fighting my first election campaign, a dreadful accident happened in what would become my constituency of North Tayside. Three generations of Israeli tourists were killed in their car at the Ballinluig junction after becoming confused trying to navigate the dangerous A9. I then made it my mission that I would do all I could to make this road safe. Since then, we have improved the Ballinluig junction and the A9 is to be dualled from Perth to Inverness.

Pete A9But these projects take time, as communities are properly consulted and all the necessary engineering works are conducted. In the meantime, this road continued to take lives. That’s why it was decided that more needed to be done right now.

The Scottish Government looked at the example of average speed cameras and the impressive impact that they had on changing driver behaviour, not just in Scotland, but across Europe. A trial was then approved that would enforce the existing speed limit of 60MPH on single carriageway and 70MPH on dual carriageway, but also raise the speed limit for HGVs to 50MPH to reduce the speed differentials between cars and the many heavy vehicles that use this road.

The success of this measure has been overwhelming. Speeding is down and speed-related accidents have been more or less eliminated. More than that, the experience for the travelling public has been massively improved. On the A9, there is no more fretfully looking in the rear-view mirror wondering when the next car travelling at 85MPH might be coming your way whilst overtaking a convoy of lorries. The road has been simply transformed.

Not everyone agrees though. I share an almost equal length of the A9 with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Inverness MP, Danny Alexander. He has been campaigning hard to have these cameras taken down. He has been watching the polls with great anxiety and thought that a lazy populist campaign on the cameras might address his dire electoral prospects. When the safety statistics came through, I asked him to stop his reckless campaign and he refused. We, therefore, have a UK Secretary of State campaigning to put the people of Perthshire at risk once again and wanting the right for motorists to speed unhampered.

The cameras might not solve all the issues on the A9, but they have made people feel more safe and secure. I will never forget the sickening feeling when the news of that family came through that day 15 years ago and that is why I will support any measure that helps make such accidents on the A9 a thing of the past.

– This is Pete’s article from the Perthshire Advertiser, Friday 6th February 2015

7 thoughts on “Safety on the A9

  1. Andy Mak

    I have just travelled the A9 and I enjoyed the journey from Fife to Inverness. The speed restrictions I though would make the journey tedious but I stand corrected. Now that it’s a lot safer to travel could we now spend some money in fixing the huge amount of potholes before they start to cause an accident by drivers swerving to avoid them.

  2. Pingback: Safety on the A9 | SNP Perth River Tay | Scoop...

  3. kevsbiglogKev

    Hey Pete,

    I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about these cameras. But since they’ve been active I find driving on the A9 less stressful than before. It also makes turning right on and off of the A9 (such as at Auchterarder) less dangerous because you know that cars will be on or around the speed limit making it easier to judge when to cross over. Before the cameras, a cars could be doing anything between 70 and 90mph (or more) making it difficult to calculate how much time they’d be upon you when making that turn.

    All in all it’s been a good thing so far, and it’s good to see the stats back this up.

  4. Colin Wallace

    I am no fan of speed cameras BUT as a regular user of the A9 I have to confess that since the introduction of the increased Speed limit for trucks and the activation of the cameras the traffic flow is better and the driving standard generally less frantic. However there are still many who fail to understand the principals of driving safely. It is not speed alone that is the issue. Poor driving skill and an abhorrent lack of use of dipped headlights also needs to be addressed. Clearly some drivers don’t understand the need “to be seen”. I would strongly suggest that the A9 be a dipped headlight road. Although My view is that should be the case throughout Scotland.

  5. Charles Menzies

    As a regular user of the A9 over the last 50 years, yes I have cycled it too, I find the improvement since the cameras have been installed great, driving is easier, is less stressful and not any slower journey times. If you do not agree, cast your mind back 30 years and think yourself lucky.

  6. jambost

    Having driven the whole of the A9 twice every January for the last ten years through some adverse weather I can tell you that having done the journey this year the road has been transformed from a dangerous, speed enducing road to a leisurely safe drive. No longer do you need to pray that someone doing 80 doesn’t pop out from behind a slow moving lorry as it approaches you from the opposite direction. Not only is it safer but fuel use dropped severely as well. Overall the amount of time to travel the route hasn’t increased. All I can say is the sooner Danny Alexander is removed from office and the threat he poses to removing these new safety features the better for future travellers on what has been a notorious road for accidents and deaths.

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