The A7 Action Group is calling on the Scottish Government to play its part in making the road safer, after the Borders was named one of the UK’s most deadly counties based on road death statistics.
Based on analysis of fatalities gathered by the UK Department of Transport, the study by technology firm Teletrac Navman said there had been 35 road deaths in the region between 2012-2016.
It ranked the Borders the tenth deadliest county in the UK, based on fatalities per 10,000 population, with the A7 coming out as the region’s most dangerous road.
Marjorie McCreadie, secretary of the A7 Action Group, said he report should act as a wake-up call for the Scottish Government.
“I’m surprised and sorry to see the Borders making a list like that - it’s publicity for the Borders for all the wrong reasons,” she said.
Mrs McCreadie said that some improvements had been made since the group was formed in 1987.
However, she expressed frustration that recent talks for a Selkirk bypass had stalled, following a constructive meeting with former transport secretary Humza Yousaf in June.
“He promised to come down to the Borders during the summer, or if he couldn’t make that, in October,” she explained.
“We built up a good working relationship over time. He was helping us to take forward certain things, like the Selkirk bypass.
“But he’s no longer transport minister. He’s gone now, and we have to start again,”
The group has written to new transport minister Michael Matheson to ask him to fulfil his predecessor’s commitment, but has had no reply.
“The Scottish Government has got to make a commitment - they have got to play their part in making this road safer,” Mrs McCreadie insisted.
“It’s fine for us, as a group, to fight, fight fight, but they have got to do their bit. No matter which government it is, the government of the day has to play its part.
“Our immediate priority now is meeting with the new minister, getting him to fulfil his colleague’s commitments and getting things done with the bypass for Selkirk.”
Mrs McCreadie is hoping this latest report will spur the government into action.
“Surely the Scottish Government will read this latest research. This could give us more clout to take this forward,” she said.
However, Scottish Borders Council has slammed the report, saying that proper analysis was needed to get the true picture.
A spokesperson for the authority described the data presented by Teletrac Navman as “fundamentally flawed”, and said that the A7 was no more dangerous than other major routes in the area.
He explained: “The study uses fatality rate per population as the measure. It is therefore no surprise that many areas with large road networks, particularly those with a large rural network, and low populations are listed as the ‘deadliest’.
“Scottish Borders Council, as part of the Scottish Borders Road Safety Working Group, works to national accident reduction targets, based on the 2004-08 annual average as a base. In this respect progress is positive, with a continued trend of a reduction in the number of casualties and injuries.
“In the period 2012-2016 an average of 750million vehicle miles were estimated to have been driven on roads in the Scottish Borders. Sadly 40 lives were lost on local roads in that time, seven of which were on the A7. Three of the seven were on the trunk road section south of Galashiels, for which Transport Scotland is responsible.
“Proper analysis, using annual average daily traffic flow, identifies that the A7 through the Scottish Borders is no more dangerous than other major routes in the area however.”
The authority said that it would continue to concentrate resources on locations where injury accidents occur, adding that the Scottish Borders Road Safety Working Group was addressing broader elements such as education, encouragement and communications, including the Drivewise scheme which offers a variety of driving courses for residents of all ages.