Scotland's most dangerous roads

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SCOTLAND’S most dangerous roads were yesterday named by a motoring group which said low-cost safety measures could dramatically cut serious accidents.

The A70 between Cumnock and Ayr, and the A71 between Kilmarnock and the M74 were highlighted by the AA Motoring Trust in a new survey of Britain’s persistently high-risk roads.

The report came three days after four people died in an accident on the A77 in Ayrshire, which is not on the list.

The survey showed there were 20 fatal or serious-injury accidents on the 13-mile stretch of the A70 between 1999 and 2001, although the total was five fewer than in the previous two-year period.

The 24-mile section of the A71 saw 38 such accidents in the same period, one fewer than in 1997-99.

The AA said accidents at junctions were the main type of incident on the A70, while head-on crashes were the main feature of incidents on the A71. Both stretches are single carriageway.

Last year, the survey rated the A889 near Dalwhinnie, in the central Highlands, as the most dangerous road, but different criteria were used this year.

By contrast, the motoring group highlighted four Scottish roads as being among Britain’s most improved accident records.

Serious accidents were reduced by nearly two-thirds to seven on the six-mile-long M73 in Lanarkshire, which connects the M74 with the A80. The reduction was the largest in Britain.

Crashes were halved to 14 on a 24-mile section of the A75 between Gretna Green and Dumfries, and nearly halved to 23 on a 27-mile stretch of the A91 between Stirling and Kinross.

Accidents were also reduced from 85 to 57 on a 63-mile section of the A90 between Dundee and Aberdeen.

Ironically, two men were seriously injured on that road near Laurencekirk on Tuesday when a van crashed into an overturned lorry.

The AA Motoring Trust said the roads were among 13 in Britain which had suffered 200 deaths and serious injuries per year, but safety improvements had significantly reduced the toll.

These included altered junction layouts, signing and road markings, as well as safety barriers and speed cameras.

The group yesterday called for UK-wide action by central government and local authorities to apply similar measures to all 370 roads which had been identified as posing a higher than average risk to people using them.

It said among the most lethal hazards were trees and lampposts along the edges of high-speed A-roads.

The survey, co-ordinated by the European Road Assessment Programme, showed the A537 between Macclesfield, in Cheshire, and Buxton, in Derbyshire, was Britain’s most dangerous route.

The lowest-risk main road was the A134 from Thetford, in Norfolk, to the A10, which was equal best with the M73 in recording a 61 per cent reduction in fatal and serious accidents on the 24-mile stretch.

Neil Greig, the AA trust’s head of policy in Scotland, said: "It’s easy to forget the true death toll on the roads because the accidents are scattered and usually involve only one or two people.

"Yet there are many people alive today thanks to the relatively inexpensive changes made on the roads we have identified.

"It’s right that billions of pounds are being spent on railway safety, which works out at around 10 million for every life saved. But we can save hundreds more people every year on the roads for just a fraction of that, and deliver massive savings to the NHS into the bargain."

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said: "We welcome any work which throws light on the causes of accidents and helps in reducing them.

"However, it may take some time before a real and reducing trend can be seen.

"Investment in road safety improvements will continue to be our priority."