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Easter Ross A9 bypass accidents near Tain trigger calls for more action after speed limit reduced; Roundabouts mooted as long-term solution to issues

By Philip Murray

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REDUCED speed limits are not working to cut accidents on the Tain bypass and alternative safety measures are needed, a local councillor has argued.

Tain and Easter Ross councillor Alasdair Rhind was speaking after two more accidents on the bypass' notorious junctions in recent weeks – the most recent of which resulted in a three-vehicle crash at Knockbreck.

A permanent 50mph speed limit was finally introduced on the bypass in January after years of campaigning for safety measures on the road.

But while the limits were welcomed in the community, they were seen as a stop-gap measure by many campaigners – who have argued that accidents will continue until roundabouts are installed at the problem Knockbreck and Morangie Road junctions.

Cllr Rhind believes the two latest collisions show that the 50mph limit is simply not doing enough to remedy the problem.

And he has called for action to solve the issue.

He said: "To be honest and frank I was never a supporter of the limit being reduced to 50mph. They maybe say they are there for traffic safety to slow down the speed of cars, but I just think they are there for camera cars to make more revenue.

"And so far that's proved the case [following the accidents].

"I don't know how those crashes happened or those that happened before, but you can certainly see how a reduction in the speed limit has not reduced the number of accidents.

"So I question the merit of having 50 limit on the bypass. Ultimately what we need are roundabouts. I know they are expensive but ultimately, if it's about safety, then roundabouts are the safest option."

He added that even small roundabouts, which would cost less to install, might be one option.

"Maybe that's what we need to be looking at rather than what [Transport Scotland] is currently doing, which isn't working."

Fellow ward member Derek Louden said he shared the view that roundabouts are what are ultimately needed on the bypass.

He said: "We [councillors] did see the limit as an intermediate [solution]. Hopefully what they will do is reduce impacts so if vehicles are travelling a slower speed there should be less of an impact – although the one that happened the other day was a serious accident.

He continued: "We accepted the reduction to 50mph but we've always been looking for roundabouts and I don't see [the limit] as an end point.

"It's disappointing that accidents are continuing to happen and I think the sooner that Transport Scotland can look at roundabouts being put in place, the better for everybody."

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said it is monitoring the effect of the new speed limit.

They said: “The impact that the reduction of speed limit has on personal injury accidents will continue be monitored over a period to gauge its effectiveness. Monitoring of the 50mph speed limit is also planned to commence shortly to understand drivers’ compliance.

“We are aware of the accident occurring at the A9/Knockbreck Road junction however, as investigations are ongoing, we cannot comment further at this time.”

Many observers locally have put the majority of accidents down to driver error but debate continues over the best solution to the issue.

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