Death toll claimed by Borders roads on increase

Flowers left as a tribute to Hawick's Leon Ali following his death on the A698 in November.
Flowers left as a tribute to Hawick's Leon Ali following his death on the A698 in November.

A dozen people were killed in road accidents in the Borders last year, the highest death toll for seven years, a meeting heard this week.

A report to Tuesday’s meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s executive revealed that the 12 fatalities on the region’s roads last year was the highest figure since the 13 recorded in 2009.

It was also well up on the seven lives claimed by traffic accidents here in both 2014 and 2015.

The casualty reduction target set for the Borders last year by the Scottish Government was 8.5 fatalities, councillors heard.

The dozen deaths on the regional road network, including trunk routes, resulted from 11 accidents.

Nine of those killed were in cars, and six of them were driving at the time. Two of the other three people killed were motorcyclists and one was a pedestrian.

The number of road accidents resulting in serious injuries was 65, well up on the target of 52 set for the Borders and higher than the figures of 60 and 61 recorded in 2015 and 2014 respectively.

There was also a marked increase, from three to eight, in the number of children under the age of 16 sustaining serious injuries, the Scottish Government’s target figure for last year being four.

Noting that the targets for both fatalities and serious injuries to children had been met in recent years, Brian Young, the council’s roads network manager, admitted: “Unfortunately, it would appear that 2016 has bucked the downward trend, and in all the key areas there has been a significant and worrying increase from the previous year.”

Mr Young’s report recommended that the council should continue concentrating its road accident investigation and prevention resources – a figure currently set at £50,000 a year – at “locations where injury accidents are occurring” and should continue to work with Police Scotland “in terms of appropriate enforcement”.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer called for more of a police presence on the region’s roads, saying: “In the not too distant past, there would be six road traffic patrol cars operating 24 hours a day on Borders roads. Nowadays, you would be lucky to see one.”

Kelso councillor Tom Weatherson asked: “What can the council really do when so much is down to driver behaviour?

“We have all regularly seen dangerous overtaking manoeuvres on our roads and prayed that nothing is coming the other way.”

“It is important to emphasise that while this report measures performance against national targets, the overriding aim is to reach a day when there are no injuries on local roads,” added Mr Young.

The average cost to the nation of each fatal accident is £2.119m, the meeting heard.

The 12 fatalities happened on eight different roads – the A1, A68, A72, A698, A701, A703, A721 and B6350.

Among those killed last year were Oliver Eaton, 26, of Peebles, on the A721 near Kirkdean in May; Leon Ali, 24, of Hawick, near Knowesouth Steading on the A698 in November; William Downie, 81, of Lamancha, on the A701 south of Leadburn in June; Stuart Wishart, 45, of Edinburgh, near Clovenfords on the A72 in June; Chris Bouglas, 31, of Hawick, north of Carter Bar on the A68 in July; Irene Robson, 68, of Peebles, on the A6094 between Leadburn and Howgate in October; Robert Kerr, 87, of Glasgow, on the A72 at Peebles in June; Lisa Bahmani, 18, of Hawick, on the A68 near Newtown in April; Kirsty Parker, 34, on the A698 near her home village of Denholm in February 2016; and Michelle Bennett, 47, of Berwick, on the B6350 near Kelso in June.