A road safety chief has said he was making “no apologies” for bringing average speed cameras to a major Tayside road in a bid to cut deaths.
Thirty average speed cameras will be installed on the A90 between Dundee and Stonehaven this year.
Luke Macauley, head of the Scottish Safety Camera Programme, is one of the key people behind the scheme and, speaking to the Tele for the first time since the cameras’ introduction was announced, he insisted the move would see fatal crash statistics drop.
He said: “We install these cameras to save lives and improve road safety.
“Unfortunately, the A90 features as one of the trunk roads with the highest collision statistics.
“One death is one too many and you’ll get no apologies from us for doing what we can to reduce that.”
The A90 cameras will be the third such scheme in Scotland, following the introduction of average speed stretches on the A77 in Ayrshire in 2005 and the A9 between Dunblane and Inverness in 2014.
The cameras work by detecting vehicles’ number plates and using the time they take to travel from one camera to the next to calculate an average speed.
Figures from Transport Scotland show more than 13,000 speeding offences were logged on the A90 by speed cameras in 2015 — accounting for 20% of the total number recorded in Scotland. In addition, there have been 60 serious or fatal collisions on the road in the last five years.
Mr Macauley, who has run the Safety Camera Programme for more than three years, said behaviour on the road has to be improved.
He said: “If driving habits are changed by the cameras I would like to think they are changed for the better. The cameras don’t make driving any more difficult.
“We’re looking to improve driver behaviour. More than three in five people on the A90 are speeding and one in five is speeding excessively.
“We have to do all we can to improve behaviour on that road.”
He said the £2 million cost of installing the cameras was small compared with the money saved by preventing accidents, adding: “The average cost of a fatality is around £2.2m, between road closures, paramedics, surgeons, fire services, everything connected to the collision — and, of course, there is the human cost.”
Since cameras were installed elsewhere in Scotland, the number of people killed on the A77 and A9 has fallen, which Mr Macauley said showed the scheme worked.
However, a spokesman for the Alliance of British Drivers claimed that 30 cameras on a 50-mile stretch of road was “excessive”, warning that average speed cameras can take drivers’ attention off the road.
He said: “Having average speed cameras all the way along the road means people are looking at their speedometers rather than what’s going on around them. As many as 30 cameras is excessive and when they’re switched on 24 hours a day, it means driving is no longer a natural thing to do. The authorities should concentrate on things that actually cause accidents in the first place.
“Speed is not to blame for many accidents — people driving badly are, whether they’re driving drunk or under the influence of drugs, or using their mobile phone, or if they’re tailgating. They should focus on stopping the real causes of accidents.”
But Mr Macauley said those who drove at the speed limit would see “no change” to their journeys. He said: “As we reduce collisions and the impact of them, journey time reliability will improve. People won’t have to deal with snarl-ups due to collisions on the road.
“Average speed cameras only enforce the speed limit — people should always be aware of the speed they are driving at.”