IT’S sometimes said there’s no such thing as dangerous roads, only dangerous drivers. Like most old sayings, that’s nonsense.

True, there are too many reckless drivers out there, but it’s undeniable some of our busiest roads are death traps. A previous occupation required me to drive all over Scotland. Two main routes, the A96 Aberdeen to Inverness and the A9 Perth to Inverness, gave me the heebie geebies. I consider myself a cautious and defensive driver, but even so, I experienced too many hairy moments on those roads.

The A96 has been much in the news. Earlier this month, an Italian tourist was found guilty of causing five deaths through dangerous driving. I wouldn’t wish to comment on the tragic incident that destroyed so many lives, but I’ve sympathy for all those involved. Having driven that stretch between Huntly and Keith many times, I can understand why the Italian driver described it as a “very dangerous road”.

As is the case with most of the A96, it’s largely single carriageway, interspersed with crawler and overtaking lanes. Even in daylight, it can be difficult to make sense of the road markings. In darkness and in the face of oncoming headlights, it’s only too easy for anyone unfamiliar with the road layout to become fatally disorientated.

The notorious Glens of Foudland are particularly scary, especially in winter. When long queues build up behind convoys of slow-moving HGVs, the crawler lanes recreate the Wacky Races. Drivers race to overtake before the lane expires.

I know the difficulty of conforming to the 60mph speed limit and being able to pass safely. Unbelievably, I’ve seen road “safety” camera vans strategically parked at the ends of crawler lanes, leading to sharp braking.

Carnage on the A96 is not restricted to a single stretch. Between 2010 and 2020 for example, there were six fatalities on the few miles between Forres and Brodie. A similar situation pertains on the A9, where there have been at least 12 fatalities since July. All have occurred on single track stretches.

The Scottish Government has obviously concluded this can’t go on, and is committed to dualling both the A96 and A9. For most of us, that is an eminently sensible way to reduce needless death and injury.

The Greens however, the SNP’s partner in government, appear to inhabit a parallel universe that doesn’t do common sense. Maggie Chapman, the Green MSP for North East Scotland, believes dualling the A96 would “drive up traffic and increase the risk of accidents”.

Her answer is more speed cameras. Eh? Current congestion on the A96 makes it virtually impossible to attain 60mph, so what difference would average speed cameras make? Ms Chapman’s colleague Ariane Burgess is also opposed, wittering platitudes about “green corridors” and ahem, dualling the Aberdeen to Inverness railway line.

I may have missed it, but I can’t recall any objective evidence supporting Ms Chapman’s assertion. The A96 is dualled for 16 miles between Aberdeen and Inverurie and I don’t recall many serious accidents on that stretch.

In contrast, there is ample evidence that fatal and other accidents are much more likely on the single carriageway sections. The SNP remains publicly committed to its dualling proposals, but progress is agonisingly slow. Is that because it’s difficult to square with the SNP/Greens’ pact? If so, it’s time to seriously question whether that agreement is worth the candle.

I am a long-time believer in proportional representation, but that creates a real danger of the tail wagging the dog. Stanley Baldwin once coined an apt description of similar power without responsibility. Good luck to the Greens if they think their agenda would be better served through an understanding with Labour, Tories or LibDems.

Those who will lose their lives on the A96 and A9 in the coming months and years cannot be written off as unfortunate collateral damage in some sort of nebulous environmental crusade.

If the A96 had been dualled between Huntly and Keith, five people might still be alive today. Furthermore, an Italian tourist who had previously lived an exemplary life of service would not have lost his young son, and be facing a lengthy term of imprisonment.

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