Seatbelt and mobile safety highlighted in Scotland

Scottish road users have been reminded of the need to stay safe behind the wheel. That means avoiding the use of handheld mobile phones and always wearing a seatbelt.

Transport Scotland has published a new survey of more than 14,000 Scottish road users in which an increase of both of these dangerous activities was recorded in comparison to similar research carried out in 2014.

Distraction is no laughing matter

Over the last five years there has been widespread publication of the message that driving and mobile phone use simply doesn’t mix. It creates unnecessary distraction when individuals are tapping on their mobile or taking their eyes off the road.

As a result, it was disappointing to see in this latest set of data that there has been an increase in the number of people breaking the law and using a handheld mobile phone while driving.

The figures showed how mobile phone use has increased from 1.6 per cent of drivers in 2014 to two per cent at moving (free-flowing) sites in the latest survey. At the same time, there has been a rise in use in stationary traffic, from 1.7 to 2.5 per cent.

Remembering to buckle up

However, in what was a more positive result for Scottish road users, this latest survey found there had been a significant improvement in the number of people who buckle up when taking to the roads.

The research recorded increased wearing rates for drivers and front seat passengers in all vehicles in the latest findings. Seatbelt wearing rates rose to 97.3 per cent – up from 96.4 per cent in 2014 and 95 per cent in 2009.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at FCS Scotland, adds: “Mobile phone use and seatbelt safety are two very important aspects of road safety. Ensuring these risky behaviours are stamped out among all road users is therefore something we should all be driving towards.”

Potential disruption for A737 users

Transport Scotland has announced that motorists using the A737 near Dalry in the coming weeks could face significant disruption to their journeys as a result of traffic management changes in the area.

Traffic restrictions will be in place along a 500-metre stretch of the road, near Wilson Auctions, from Sunday (February 3rd) and will be in operation for a period of approximately nine weeks.

Motorists using the carriageway during this time are advised of potential delays to journeys, as temporary traffic lights will be used to hold back drivers during periods of work by highways engineers.

Gavin Dyet, project manager at Transport Scotland, stated: “Work to deliver the Dalry Bypass is continuing at a steady pace, with construction of a roundabout at Hillend essential to deliver the project.

“We anticipate that any delays to journeys will be minimal; however, we will be implementing measures to lessen any potential disruption as far as possible, including manually operating the lights during peak periods of traffic flow.”

Work in the area forms part of the larger Dalry Bypass scheme, which hopes to bolster the economic prosperity of surrounding businesses and the local economy by providing more reliable journey times in the future. The project is forecast to be complete by the end of 2019.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at FCS Scotland, comments: “Motorists travelling in the area should be prepared to add extra time to their journeys in the coming weeks. However, we’re sure travellers will agree that, in the end, the upgrades being carried out along this busy stretch of carriageway will be worth it.”

Snow Scottish Roads

Serious snowfall may cause Scottish road closures

Freight drivers in Scotland may find conditions increasingly difficult as snow sweeps across the country.

The Met Office has issued a series of yellow weather warnings for ice in various parts of Scotland. These regions include the Central, Tayside & Fife, Highlands & Eilean Siar, south-west Scotland, Lothian, Borders, and Strathclyde regions.

This means almost all of Scotland, bar the east coast, is facing significant weather challenges. Ice poses a particularly obvious peril to drivers of vehicles large or small. Places like Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee will be fine for now, although this may change as weather systems sweep in.

However, over the course of today (January 22nd) no weather-related road closures have yet been reported by Travel Line Scotland, with some closed due to other occurrences such as roadworks and the laying of gas pipes.

Naturally, the gritters will be out in force, but if the snow keeps coming and the temperatures remain low as expected, many roads could become a lot slower, with drivers being forced to cut their speed.

Preparing for the worst

So far this winter conditions have been generally mild across Scotland. Snow mainly confined to the upland areas, but that could now be at an end.

For that reason, drivers should take extra precautions to ensure they are safe in the event of cold weather. This includes warm clothing, warm drinks and extra food in case they get stranded for long periods; or even overnight.

Indeed, last year’s Beast from the East showed that problems can still occur right into early spring.

The coldest temperatures in Scottish winters tend to occur in the eastern Highlands. Those using the A9, for example, may pass through Aviemore, where the mercury has been known to drop to -22C on winter nights.

Braemar on the other side of the Cairngorms range can be similarly cold.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at FCS Scotland, comments: “Winter has arrived with a vengeance, and it could get worse, so now is an important time for freight drivers to take all the necessary precautions.”

BEAR Scotland is ready for whatever winter throws at it

There may be no halting the arrival of winter, but BEAR Scotland seems to be doing all it can to ensure any potential disruption is minimised.

Scotland’s leading infrastructure management and maintenance organisation has revealed that it has more than 58,000 tonnes of salt ready to treat trunk routes across the north of the country.

Additionally, its 195-strong winter team and fleet of 120 winter vehicles are dedicated to helping keep the trunk roads as clear as possible this winter.

2018 marks the tenth year that BEAR’s winter 24/7 control room will be central to the organisation’s winter response programme, analysing detailed weather forecasts and road temperatures to ensure treatments are carried out as necessary.

BEAR Scotland is responsible for keeping clear 1,265 miles of trunk roads across the north east and north west of Scotland.

During last year’s especially harsh winter, the group used over 80,000 tonnes of de-icing materials across nearly 11,000 treatments.

Amongst BEAR Scotland’s 120 dedicated winter vehicle fleet are 39 large 32-tonne eight wheeler spreaders – some of the largest in the UK. Its fleet of gritters include daft names like ‘For Your Ice Only’, ‘Mr Plow’, ‘Plougher O’Scotland’, ‘Sir Andy Flurry’ [pictured] and ‘Gritty Gritty Bang Bang.’

Iain Murray, managing director at BEAR Scotland, commented: “While we remain as committed as ever to doing as much as possible to keep routes passable during inclement weather, we are keen to remind members of the public to ensure their vehicles are well maintained and that they pay close attention to local and national media and online information to help plan journeys and be prepared should conditions deteriorate.”

Ellie Baker, brand manager at FCS Scotland, adds: “The winter can be particularly tough on Scotland, as seen last time round, but with preparations as thorough as this, any hassle can be tamed.”

 

Repairs required for 9 in 10 Scottish road bridges – and the bill is rising…

Nine in ten bridges on Scotland’s main roads have defects that require repairs – and the cost to fix them has increased by more than half since 2009, The Scotsman reports.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson recently admitted that most of the road bridges in Scotland were in need of repair.

However, the cost of carrying out the work has shot up to £570 million in the last eight years.

Scottish Labour, which released the figures, said the situation is likely to “leave many members of the public worried”.

The data reveals that 1,720 of 1,933 bridges (88.9 per cent) on the trunk road network require repair work.

More worryingly, it remains unclear when the backlog of outstanding bridge repairs – which are operated by the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency – would be cleared.

Mr Matheson said he was unable to estimate a timescale for the bridge maintenance backlog due to the calculation being dependent on a number of unknown variables, such as future funding levels, deterioration rates and network availability.

“We will continue to use well-developed asset management practices to ensure the areas of most need are prioritised to keep the trunk road network safe and available for use,” he commented.

Just weeks before the figures emerged, Transport Scotland’s chief bridge engineer Hazel McDonald called for a major boost in funding “to prevent issues becoming critical”, urging the current £64 million annual budget to be increased towards £100 million over the next few years.

Public spending watchdog Audit Scotland reports that the repair backlog grew from £60 million to £372 million between 2004 and 2010.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at FCS Scotland, added: “Safety on Scotland’s roads should never be neglected, so the transport secretary should clarify the severity of these bridge defects and listen to the warnings over a lack of investment.”

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