A9 Speed Limits Subject of New Effort

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In light of the fact that average speed cameras will be installed on a 138-mile stretch of the A9 in Scotland, a group of HGV drivers has launched a campaign to have speed limits on that same stretch of road raised from 40 mph to 50 mph. HGV driver and activist Jamie Durent is spearheading the effort.

In July, Scottish transport minister Keith Brown announced government plans to install the average speed cameras between Inverness and Dunblane. Though the cameras will be used to track any drivers exceeding the speed limit, the obvious target of the campaign are the HGV drivers who routinely go faster than they are meant to.

The Scottish government hoped the installation of the cameras would reduce the number of accidents on that stretch of road. The A9 between Inverness and Dunblane has one of the highest rates of fatal accidents in all the UK. However, HGV drivers insist that installing average speed cameras alone is not the answer.

Slow Speed Causes Accidents

Durent and his fellow drivers insist that the slower speeds for lorries on the A9 contribute to many of the accidents. Slower moving lorries can lead to driver frustration, unnecessary congestion, and dangerous driving among cars operators as they try to overtake HGVs. Speed cameras will not change any of that, they insist.

In a perfect world, the Scottish government would expand the A9 to a dual carriageway in the near future, rather than waiting until the proposed 2025 project deadline. A wider road, combined with higher speed limits for lorries, is what HGV drivers believe will do the most good to reduce tragic accidents.

The proposal to increase the A9 speed for HGVs has the backing of the haulage industry and politicians like MSP David Stewart. They believe the idea should at least be rolled out on a trial basis to see if it is indeed effective. If so, the change should be made permanent, according to supporters.

Previous Success Elsewhere

For their part, the Scottish government points to other instances in the past where installing average speed cameras significantly reduced the number of serious crashes. They believe the same thing will happen as a result of the cameras being installed on the A9.

That being said, most of the roadways now utilising average speed cameras are dual carriageways with higher speed limits. That seems to reinforce the contention among drivers that cameras only work well if the other parameters are in place. Only time will tell if that’s true for the A9.

In the meantime, the haulage industry is concerned that journey times along the A9 will be increased significantly enough to negatively impact business. Bigger companies that can afford to run an extra lorry or two may not be that severely impacted, but smaller haulage companies will most definitely be.

Right now drivers on the job regularly exceed the speed limit in order to keep traffic moving and meet scheduling demands. Once the cameras are placed – which should be completed by September of next year – that practice will come to an immediate halt. Drivers expect to have trouble meeting deadlines as a result.

There seems to be no easy answers to the problem of the excessively high death toll on the A9 in Scotland. In light of that, it would make sense to explore every available option rather than limiting government action to the single stroke of installing average speed cameras. Hopefully this is just the first step in a multi-step process to improve traffic flow along the roadway.

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