Roads are priority

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Hugh Reilly (Perspective, 21 ­October) is correct in his assertion that age and experience have a significant impact on driver ability and road safety and he is also correct when he speaks about the need for poor driving to be challenged.

He has, however, misunderstood the approach that is being taken by Police Scotland when policing the roads.

The priority of road safety and casualty reduction has never been higher in policing in Scotland and last year record numbers of offences were detected.

Perhaps as a result of this ­police activity, driver attitudinal and behavioural research carried out on behalf of Road Safety Scotland this year shows that drivers now regard behaviours such as speeding in built-up areas, use of mobile phones, not wearing ­seat belts and driving without due care on country roads as more ­serious than before.

The research also shows there is a clear perception among road users that the risk of being caught is higher than previously recorded and that the penalties that may be applied are now such that these factors are enough for them to change their behaviour.

As a consequence, instances of risk-taking and illegal behaviours show significant reductions.

Our analysis of collisions and offences last year has allowed us to continue to actively target ­patrols in areas of concern, and to challenge those who willingly put themselves and others at risk on the roads, however the ­research has also helped us to focus activity in areas where the risks posed may not be immediately obvious and to challenge those road users who may be unaware that their behaviour is inappropriate.

Such an approach requires that we use every means at our disposal to influence road users and real-time education at the roadside, at the point that the offence is detected, must be part of the process. Enforcement will always remain the primary means by which we seek to change behaviour, however.

Far from being a “kid glove” approach as Mr Reilly asserts, our strategy now robustly challenges risk-taking and offending across a wider range of locations and behaviours and I would wish to reassure readers that our efforts will not diminish in this area.

Mr Reilly closes by saying “society needs to show its rage at those who cavalierly misuse our roads”. I agree, and we all need to realise that the numbers of deaths and injuries on our roads can be influenced and it is our ­attitude, and how we interact with each other on the tar that we share, that will have the greatest impact on these horrendous statistics.

Iain Murray
 Chief Superintendent

Head of Road Policing

Police Scotland