Dangers of roads in region revealed

David Coulthard is fronting a new campaign asking Borderers to think about their driving on country roads.
David Coulthard is fronting a new campaign asking Borderers to think about their driving on country roads.

A new campaign urging Borders drivers to reduce their speed on rural roads has revealed almost one-quarter of all accidents involve motorbikes.

And the Scottish Government and Road Safety Scotland-led campaign showed that Borders men were twice as likely to be involved in a road accident as women.

Former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard is fronting the initiative which is attempting to reduce the number of fatalities in the region, with 70 per cent of all road deaths in Scotland on the countryside network.

The campaign has shown that of the 407 serious or fatal accidents in the Borders over a five-year period, 101 involved motorbikes.

The figure was high compared with cars, which accounted for 240 incidents, while pedal bikes were involved in 15 and pedestrians 20 accidents.

The overall annual accident figure rose to 94 in 2009, but fell to a five-year low of 65 in 2011.

A driver aged 35 to 44 has more chance of being involved in an accident in the Borders than any other age-group, and weekends were shown to be the days when all drivers were most likely to suffer a serious collision.

In addition, noon to 6pm was the most likely time of the day for an accident to occur.

The Scottish Government claim the use of Coulthard, who grew up in Twynholm in Dumfries and Galloway and secured 13 Grand Prix wins during his 15-year career, is the first time an ex-F1 driver has fronted such a road safety campaign.

Mr Coulthard, 41, said: “I’m backing this year’s country roads campaign because I grew up in the South West of Scotland, and did most of my early driving around there, so I’m aware that countryside driving comes with its own unique set of challenges.

“Driving on country roads takes more than simply being aware of the basic Highway Code; increased concentration and greater care are needed to adapt to the muddy tracks and changeable conditions which make country roads particularly tricky.

“The main goal of this campaign is to ultimately reduce fatalities on country roads. Sadly, too many people are killed in road accidents that could be avoided.

“I hope this campaign will reduce the eventuality of accidents on country roads and make sure it is something that doesn’t happen as frequently in the future as it unfortunately does today.”

Transport minister Keith Brown said Scotland currently has the lowest road casualty figures since records began, with fatalities down by 11 per cent since 2010.

He added: “This success is due to many influences, not least the commitment and dedication of the road safety community in Scotland and the responsible behaviour of the vast majority of road users.

“However, it’s clear that we are still seeing too many fatalities and serious injuries that are avoidable.

“This innovative campaign can help get the message across that even the most qualified drivers in the world, drive to the conditions on country roads.

“We know that male drivers make up three-quarters of those killed on our roads and 70 per cent of fatal accidents happen on country roads.

“I hope that David Coulthard, a Formula 1 legend, can help convince them to change their dangerous driving habits.”

Part of the campaign involves a TV advert in which Mr Coulthard demonstrates to drivers, through a reconstruction, how even the best drivers in the world have to adjust their speed on country roads.

The initiative kicked off on Monday and is being rolled out across a variety of media platforms this month to get the message across.

A Road Safety Scotland spokesperson said: “The campaign is to make drivers aware that they don’t have to be going over the speed limit to be going too fast.

“They should constantly check their speed to adapt to the changing conditions on country roads and even if people use a rural road regularly, the hazards can still be unpredictable.

“Driving even slightly too fast to read the road properly can turn avoidable accidents into serious and even fatal ones.”

For more information visit www.dontriskit.info or Road Safety Scotland’s Facebook page.