South Scotland

More than 6,000 caught speeding on A1 through Borders

A1 northbound Image copyright ALex McGregor
Image caption There are seven fixed speed cameras on the A1 in the Borders alone

Thousands of drivers were caught by speed cameras on a Scottish trunk road where there were just a handful of accidents, BBC Scotland can reveal.

A total of 6,200 people were detected by safety cameras on the A1 between Edinburgh and the border with England last year.

Figures obtained from Police Scotland using Freedom of Information show there were 12 accidents on the route.

It is understood that most were caught on one of the road's 13 fixed cameras.

Road safety campaigners claimed it proved the cameras were successful at keeping the accident rate low.

Others insisted it proved that speed traps were being used on relatively safe roads as a means of raising income for the UK treasury.

Road accidents and speed cameras in the Scottish Borders in 2014/15 (Source: Police Scotland)
Road Total accidents Serious injury Fatalities Speed camera convictions
A1 12 3 0 6,200
A68 47 7 0 767
A7 50 3 2 29
A697 16 2 0 872
A72 45 3 0 n/a
A701 10 0 0 176

The Police Scotland statistics also reveal that the A7, which runs between Canonbie and Edinburgh, is the Scottish Borders' most dangerous road.

Two people died and three were seriously injured in 50 accidents on the road in 2014/15, but just 29 motorists were caught speeding. There are no fixed speed cameras.

There were a similar number of accidents on the A68, which runs through Jedburgh and Newtown St Boswells to Edinburgh. A total of 767 drivers were caught in the road's 15 permanent safety cameras.

Tory MSP John Lamont said: "While speed cameras certainly can have a role to play in making our roads safer, these figures suggest that they are actually being used for a very different purpose.

"The A7 and the A68 see roughly the same number of accidents, yet the latter is plastered with speed cameras. If these cameras were improving road safety, like they are supposed to, we would be seeing fewer accidents on the A68.

"If speed cameras really were focused on saving lives then more should be placed in residential areas and in and around schools. Instead, the overwhelming impression is that they are being used as a way to rake in even more money from motorists."

Image copyright Jim barton
Image caption The safety camera at Lauder is one of 15 along the length of the A68

Transport Scotland guidelines state that there must be a minimum number of "injury collisions" in the previous three years before any new permanent camera can be considered for a stretch of road.

Seven fixed speed cameras were installed on the A1 in the Borders in the 1990s in a bid to "reduce road collision" and "improve driver behaviour", according to Police Scotland.

A spokesman said: "Since then they have seen significant success with sustained reductions in road casualties being achieved, especially in the early years of their operation."

"When Safety Camera Partnerships were established the guidance under which they operate, The Scottish Safety Camera Programme Office Handbook, recognised the success of historical speed camera installations across Scotland.

"As a consequence, the guidance allowed partnerships to continue to enforce from route strategy sites of this nature, albeit they may not satisfy the latest criteria governing site selection."

Road accidents and speed cameras in Dumfries and Galloway in 2014/15 (Source: Police Scotland)
Road Total accidents Serious injuries Fatalities Speed camera convictions
A74(M) 162 7 1 4,859
A75 128 6 3 1,108
A76 57 6 1 49
A701 35 3 0 303

SNP MSP Paul Wheelhouse said the A1 was a very busy road, with peak flows of about 12,000 vehicles a day on single-carriageway stretches of the road in August.

He said: "For the communities that live astride that road, speeding traffic can be a huge problem for those trying to join the A1 at its many rural junctions and there have been all too many tragedies involving either visitors or locals on the A1 in the 15 years I have lived here."

Mr Wheelhouse added: "The design of the road does punish dangerous driving and anything that can slow traffic down at accident black spots, such as cameras, should be welcomed."

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) said the data proved the cameras were having a positive effect on the safety of the A1.

Image copyright David Dixon
Image caption The Institute of Advanced Motorists raised concerns about the safety of the A75

However head of safety Kevin Delaney raised concerns about the A75 Gretna - Stranraer road, where there were 128 accidents last year, resulting in three deaths.

A total of 1,108 speeding drivers were caught by mobile speed traps on the road in the same period.

He said: "The casualty levels on the A75 which links Stranraer with the M6/A74M via Dumfries are more worrying, but must be read in the context of high traffic levels on a road with many stretches of single carriageway.

"Without camera enforcement, the situation might be much worse, although road improvement measures would almost certainly contribute to further casualty reductions."

A spokesman for the Scottish government said: "Road safety is an absolute priority which is underpinned by our Road Safety Framework to 2020 with an ultimate aim of zero deaths on Scotland's roads, safety cameras are an integral element of the framework."

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