376 casualties at Scotland’s dangerous roundabouts

In the ten years to 2013, there were 65 recorded injuries at the Sheriffhall roundabout on the Edinburgh City Bypass. Picture: Ian Georgeson
In the ten years to 2013, there were 65 recorded injuries at the Sheriffhall roundabout on the Edinburgh City Bypass. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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CRASHES at Scotland’s worst trunk road junctions have caused nearly 400 casualties over the last decade, official figures have revealed.

The Sheriffhall roundabout on the Edinburgh City Bypass was the scene of the most injuries, with 65 in the ten years to 2013.

It was one of eight round- abouts which clocked up the most incidents at junctions on the country’s motorways and main routes.

Statistics, provided to Scotland on Sunday by the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency, showed the Pirnhall roundabout off the M9 and M80, south of Stirling, recorded the second highest number of injuries over that period – 64.

The next highest number of injuries – 52 – happened at the Broxden roundabout, where the A9 and M90 meet in Perth. It was also the scene of the most serious injuries – ten.

Next came roundabouts at Bankhead, on the A92 in Glenrothes (45), Keir, where the M9 meets the A9 south of Dunblane (42), and Whitletts, on the A77 near Ayr (41).

The others were Redhouse, on the A92 near Kirkcaldy (36), and Hermiston Gait, at the eastern end of the M8 in Edinburgh (31). Casualties at the roundabouts totalled 376, including 29 serious injuries.

The figures only cover junctions and their approaches, for which Transport Scotland is responsible. Others, which are maintained by councils, may have higher figures.

The agency said major safety work had been completed or was planned at all the sites.

Ranking the “worst-performing” trunk road junctions was a key commitment by ministers in their action blueprint, Scotland’s Road Safety Framework to 2020, published in 2009. It also pledged to “prepare a programme to improve selected locations”.

Upgrading at Sheriffhall, near Dalkeith, which handles 21,000 vehicles a day, has included innovative new road studs. These highlight lane markings by lighting up in sync with the traffic lights.

The technology, which was a UK-first when installed a year ago, is designed to encourage drivers to stay in lane as they approach and drive round the six-prong junction, which includes the A7.

Further major work is planned to separate traffic taking different routes.

Transport Scotland said upgrading at Pirnhall and Broxden was being assessed with the local councils. Road markings and signs have been overhauled at Bankhead and Redhouse.

Extra warning signs alerting southbound drivers of queueing vehicles will be installed at Keir. Further upgrades are being considered there and at Whitletts, while Hermiston Gait was resurfaced last year.

A leading Scottish motoring expert urged greater use of warning systems.

Neil Greig, policy and research director of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), said: “The junctions share a common theme – roundabouts at the end of long, high-speed sections of road. The IAM would support greater investment in queue detection and smarter electronic signposting to advise drivers of problems ahead. However, most crashes at these major junctions happen within the roundabout itself, suggesting that drivers often don’t understand which lane they should be using.”

A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “Road safety is of paramount importance and the whole of the trunk road network, including junctions, is monitored annually to pinpoint the areas that require interventions to promote casualty reduction.

“While this list is a useful tool in highlighting such locations, it is more appropriate that we reflect the findings of this annual network analysis when making decisions on where to target road safety investment.

“This allows each set of interventions to be tailored to address particular issues.

“Our plans for the junctions indicated range from major upgrades to the installation of new safety barriers, and signing and lining improvements.”