Jeremy Clarkson has taken a pop at the A9 average speed cameras by telling a Scottish audience on his new motoring show: ”You can take our licences but you cannot take our freedom”.
The presenter invoked Mel Gibson’s Braveheart battle cry to criticise the cameras in the latest episode of the Amazon Prime series The Grand Tour.
The system, which were installed on the A9 between near Dunblane and Inverness in 2014, has cut deaths by nearly half and serious casualties by almost three quarters.
It covers the 30-mile dual carriageway between Dunblane and Perth and the 80 miles of single carriageway sections between Perth and Inverness.
Clarkson’s remarks on the programme came after he referred to a police crackdown on drivers on the North Coast 500, a tourist route around the north of Scotland.
He said: “Then we have got the A9 - 99 miles of continuous average speed cameras.”
Addressing the show’s audience, in a tent beside Loch Ness, he said: “I presume you are all petrolheads?
“So let me ask you a question: Dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back and say to the Scottish Safety Camera Partnership [Programme] - ‘You can take our licences but you cannot take our freedom’?”
However, the comments earned a rebuke from motoring group IAM RoadSmart.
Policy and research director Neil Greig said: “It’s only by having average speed cameras that many more petrolheads will live on to die in their beds.
“They may not be loved by everybody, but they have effectively stopped all dangerously excessive speeding and made the road a much more relaxed place to be.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government-led A9 Safety Group, which oversees the camera system, said: “Mr Clarkson was hopefully just having a bit of fun on this occasion.
“In the two years of being operational, fatal casualties along the A9 corridor within the monitoring area have dropped almost 43 per cent and serious injury casualties by almost 63 per cent.
“These are statistics that should be welcomed by even the strongest opponent of average speed cameras.
“The latest report, last November, also highlighted significant reductions in the number of drivers detected speeding when compared to enforcement figures before the cameras were installed.
“This significantly-increased level of compliance supports the change in driver behaviour now evident on the route.”