ROAD accidents cost Shetland around £4 million in 2006, it emerged at Tuesday’s meeting of the infrastructure committee. A total of 12 people were killed or seriously injured in that year and 49 were slightly injured – a vast improvement on the previous year.
The figure is an estimate of the cost of damage to vehicles and property, police time, insurance administration, loss of earnings and human misery.
The casualty figures are contained in a report prepared by the Road Safety Advisory Panel, which aims to meet government targets for cutting the number of deaths on the roads substantially by 2010.
They represent a 40 per cent reduction in people killed or seriously injured, a 50 per cent reduction in children killed or seriously injured and a 10 per cent reduction in the slight casualty rate.
Councillor Rick Nickerson said zero tolerance should be applied to road accidents and Shetland should look beyond national targets. “I would like us to be more ambitious,” he said.
Safety and risk manager Sandra Pearson said she agreed and hopefully their hard work would take Shetland “beyond targets”.
Councillor Bill Manson said that while it was commendable that children were being educated in road safety, adults needed education in reponsible driving too. He said a “teenage rush of blood” when a young person gets their first car means fast driving, and said he sees “masses of car drivers with a mobile phone clamped to their lug”. He also spoke about “appalling judgement” when drivers pull out of junctions.
Councillor Laura Baisley made a plea for drivers to use dipped headlights when driving on dark days. She said she was “astonished” at the number of people driving without lights, which she was sure caused “near-misses”.
Councillor Alastair Cooper said that there were areas where cars regularly come off the road – Dales Lees in Delting is one – but which there are no statistics for. Because these are not fatal accidents the police are not picking it up, but there should be a mechanism for collecting statistics.
Concern was expressed about the new roundabout in Lerwick’s South Road where buses appear to “overhang” the blocked area. Head of roads Ian Halcrow said buses could drive on that area, which was designed to slow car drivers down. He said it was not a pavement but part of the road.
Chairman of the meeting councillor Allan Wishart said it would be looked at by the road safety panel.
Councillor Jonathan Wills said 20mph zones were the best “simple fix” to improve road safety. He said the technology was freely available and speed-activated signs should be installed not just outside schools but from the top of Lerwick’s Church Road and along the Esplanade as far as the Viking bus station.
Mr Halcrow said that “smiley face” signs which gave feedback to drivers had been seen to be effective, and they could be moved around.