Main road to England may become one big speed trap

BRITAIN's longest speed trap could be set up on the main route between Edinburgh and the English Border.

The head of the Lothian and Borders Safety Camera Partnership has called for the Scottish section of the A1 to be covered by cameras that measure average speeds over set distances.

Colin McNeill, whose group comprises police, local authorities and the Scottish Executive, told The Scotsman the success of such "time and distance" cameras since they were deployed on the A77 in Ayrshire a year ago could be repeated on the A1.

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Casualties on the A1 through East Lothian and the Borders have been cut since seven fixed speed cameras were introduced. But Mr McNeill said problem areas remained. These included high speeds on a nine-mile "expressway" between Haddington and Dunbar that opened two years ago but has no cameras.

Mr McNeill said: "I would like average-speed cameras between Edinburgh and the Border to be considered. They remove the sudden rise and drop in speeds around fixed cameras.

"We still see quite serious collisions on the A1, and this type of device seems to be working on the A77."

No estimate has been made of the likely cost of covering some 60 miles of the A1 with average-speed cameras, but the 29-mile zone on the A77, the longest of its type in Britain, cost 775,000.

The A77 cameras measure speeds on various stretches averaging half a mile. Since going live last August, the number of deaths and serious injuries has fallen from 14 to eight compared with the previous year.

Mr McNeill said the A1 proposal would be subject to money being available.

Sue Nicholson, the campaigns manager for the RAC Foundation, said such cameras had proved to be very effective, but using them for the entire A1 in Scotland would be "like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut".

Paul Smith, the founder of the anti-camera Safe Speed campaign, said: "You may not get the panic-braking response caused by fixed cameras, but people will drive while staring at their speedometers for long distances and so give less attention to other hazards."

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Transport Scotland, which is responsible for the country's trunk roads, said the A77 scheme had still to be assessed before it would consider other average-speed camera projects.