Highland emergency services to help keep construction workers safe on roads

Crucial road safety training is to be delivered to 120 apprentices and staff in the construction industry to help protect them from dangerous road accidents on their daily commute to work on Highland roads.

‘Safe Driving in the North’ is a health and safety focused-event in Inverness, organised by the Highland Construction Training Group (HCTG) and funded by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

A demonstration of a serious car accident scene to over 60 CITB apprentices

The event on March 20-21 will raise awareness and provide practical training on how to deal with potentially hazardous conditions on major roads like the A9 and the A82.

For several years, serious road traffic incidents including fatalities have been reported on the A9, A82 and associated rural roads, due to a combination of speeding and environmental factors.

The event will feature talks, workshops and practical training from Police Scotland, the Fire and Ambulance services, Highland Council Road Safety and the Scottish Government’s Health and Safety Executive.

The main causes of collisions on Highland roads are excessive speed and drivers who are distracted or drink driving. Safe Driving in the North will tackle all of these issues.

Ian Phillips, chairman of the Highland Council Training Group (HCTG) and operations director of Robertson Group, said: “The whole point of Safe Driving in the North stems from the need for our construction operations to be on the go early in the morning and sometimes throughout the night. This means construction apprentices and workers – especially in the North where sites can be more remote – often have to travel by car during dark, freezing winters, and on back roads.

“The Highlands have other specific road hazards, such as stags and deer to contend with – not to mention the sharp increase in tourist numbers and traffic congestion during the summer months.

“The road network around the Highlands – the A9 in particular – is well-known for being a particularly hazardous drive. Over the last five years, the busiest roads in the North of Scotland have had a serious crash rate of at least one per week.”

Attendees will hear from Munlochy nurse, Rachael MacDonald, who will highlight the importance of road safety by sharing the story of her older brother, Andrew, who sadly died in a road traffic accident in Carrbridge in 2012.

Speaking ahead of Safe Driving in the North, Rachael said: “I know that travelling these same roads every day in the North involves risk. Many people have no option other than to do this just to get to and from work – but some don’t realise just how dangerous a momentary lapse of concentration can be. Andrew’s death had no clear cause at the time, we still don’t know why his car went off the road. It’s tough for me and my family to talk about what happened to Andrew, but if his story, and this event, help to prevent just one accident – or even save another person’s life – it’s not all in vain.”

Ian Hughes, strategic partnerships director, CITB Scotland, said: “Statistics show that Highland road incidents and accidents are on the increase and as an industry, we need to do everything we can to protect apprentices and construction workers both onsite, and as they travel to work. We are pleased to be working with with Highland Construction Training Group, the emergency services, Highland Council and the Scottish Health and Safety Executive to keep as many workers as possible road safe.”

Constable Alan Maclennan, preventions and interventions officer at Police Scotland, said: “Road safety is a priority for Police Scotland and we are committed to working in partnership with various different agencies to reduce the number of serious incidents on our roads.

“The work is as much about prevention and awareness as enforcement. If we get a positive message across which encourages a driver to think about their behavior behind the wheel then that could prevent a serious incident.

“Events such as this in the north of Scotland help to highlight the potentially devastating consequences of even momentary inattention on the road.”

Lisa MacKellaich, Highland Council’s road safety officer, added: “For over 10 years we have been delivering Driving Ambition (young driver road safety education) in Highland secondary schools aimed at 5th and 6th year pupils. We recognise that some young drivers who leave school at the end of 4th year to start as apprentices have missed out on the scheme and we are delighted to support the training of those young people.”

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