AVERAGE speed cameras on the A9 are to be switched on in three weeks, the A9 Safety Group announced yesterday.
The date – Tuesday, 28 October – was revealed as the group, which includes Police Scotland, the Scottish Government and councils, launched a campaign to remind drivers of speed limits on the road.
The cameras will cover the seven single carriageway – 60mph limit – sections between Perth and Inverness, but also the continuous 70mph dual carriageway section between the Keir Roundabout, south of Dunblane, and Perth.
Police said this was necessary because although the A9 has less than half the average trunk road crash rate, two stretches of the dual carriageway south of Perth had a higher than average rate.
Some 74 people have been killed on the A9 between Dunblane and Thurso since 2008, including nine last year and around seven this year.
Launch of the cameras will coincide with the lorry speed limit on the single carriageway sections being raised from 40mph to 50mph in a three-year trial.
The cameras measure vehicle speeds over set distances, but as they are positioned every few miles motorists won’t know over which stretch they are being monitored.
Ministers believe the cameras will reduce crashes and casualties, but critics say it will not address the problem of dangerous overtaking. They are seen as an interim measure ahead of the Perth-Inverness section being fully dualled in 2025.
A9 Safety Group chair Stewart Leggett said: “Average speed cameras encourage motorists to improve their general driving behaviour by reducing excessive speed. We are already seeing this on the A9 where the number of people going over the limit is falling without the cameras even being operational.
“A third of people who drive the route told us they did not know what the speed limit on a dual carriageway was and we want give them every opportunity to refresh their knowledge ahead of the cameras going live.”
The Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency said the black and white national speed limit signs could not be changed to “60” and “70” because of UK regulations.
Transport minister Keith Brown said: “We all have a responsibility for safety when we are driving, and staying within the speed limit is an important part of that. I am sure this campaign will give everyone who uses the A9 a useful reminder of what the limits are on this important route.”
Highland Liberal Democrat MP Danny Alexander, who has led a campaign against the cameras, claimed most people in the region opposed them. He said thousands had signed petitions.
Mr Alexander, who is also Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “We all want the road to be safer.
“But most Highlanders believe the SNP is making a grave mistake by ploughing on with this scheme, because it will increase driver frustration and risk on the road.”