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Along the A9 in Scotland, between Dunblane and Inverness, car drivers have a higher risk of deadly accidents than almost anywhere else in the UK. A combination of the road’s construction and the high amount of traffic it receives makes the 138-mile stretch of road a death trap.

In an effort to reduce the number of fatal accidents, the Scottish government has announced plans to install average speed cameras at various increments along the roadway. The project is expected to be completed by September next year. And while the plan has the support of some, HGV drivers and the haulage industry are not happy.

At issue, according to the drivers, is the fact that the cameras will only reduce speeds among lorries without addressing the structural issues of the roadway or the amount of traffic it receives. Not only that, drivers insist reduced speed among HGVs will only contribute to higher numbers of accidents.

Impatience and Recklessness

The top speed for HGVs on the A9 is currently 40 mph. However, drivers admit to regularly exceeding that limit in order to keep traffic moving. They say it is also a matter of safety.

When slower lorries are puttering along at 40 mph, cars begin to stack up behind them because large portions of the A9 are single-lane roadways. That leads to frustration and the inevitable reckless driving from the car operator trying to overtake the slower lorry. Drivers say this is one of the main causes of fatal crashes in the area.

By installing the average speed cameras, the government will force lorry drivers to stay at slower speeds. If the drivers are correct, this will lead to more accidents rather than fewer. They say three other things need to be addressed:

Haulage Industry Input

The nation’s HGV drivers have the backing of the haulage industry in seeking to raise the speed limit on the A9. They believe installing the cameras while leaving the speed limit the same will inevitably hurt business due to longer journey times, increased road congestion, and more accidents.

Like the drivers, the haulage industry sees no tangible benefit if installing the cameras is the only action the Scottish government takes. They agree with the drivers who believe the roadway should immediately be expanded to a dual carriageway and that the speed limit for lorries should be increased.

According to sources, the government does plan to widen the roadway, though the project is not slated for any time in the near future. All we know at this point is that the government has committed to doing it sometime before 2025. It might help the situation if that project were undertaken immediately.

The problems on the A9 stem from the fact that the road was originally constructed at a time before the haulage industry dominated so much of the UK economy. It was never meant to handle the volume of traffic it gets now, as evidenced by its construction. The roadway needs to be adapted to address current traffic volumes and the increased traffic expected in the future.

For now, the government’s focus is to get the cameras installed as quickly as possible. Only time will tell if they have any positive effect on the number of fatal accidents.


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