Highlands Islands Regional MSP and road safety campaigner, David Stewart, has complained to the A96 operating company, Bear Scotland, after learning that temporary traffic lights had been set up just before rush hour at the junction of the A96 Inverness – Nairn Road and the unnamed access road to Whiteness Head, Nairn. The lights had been set up early this morning (Before 8am on 12/9/28), which caused commuters lengthy delays, frustration and chaos.
“ What makes the situation worse” said David Stewart “is the fact that this is the second similar incident on the same stretch of road in two weeks, whereby there were no workmen or no roadworks being undertaken at the site of these temporary lights. Basically no work was ongoing. My office staff eventually managed to contacted Bear, the operating company, based at Perth. The spokesperson did not know why the temporary lights had been set up at that time on a priority ‘A’ class route, but undertook to ascertain the reasons why.
“ It does beggar belief that twice now in two weeks a utility company have set up temporary traffic lights during peak commuter times on the A96 between Inverness and Nairn, where no road works are being undertaken and there are no workmen on site, not even employees of the company who set up the temporary lights and are supposed to manage them.
On the 28th of last month the same thing happened on the A96 at its junction with Barn Church Road. I and many other individuals and organisations involved in road safety, strive to make sure our roads are safer and we do this by addressing driver behaviour and reducing frustration. Then twice in two weeks on the same stretch of road, a utility company, set up temporary traffic lights during peak traffic times on a trunk road, at a location where no road works are being undertaken. It was my understanding that such temporary lights were not to be set up on trunk roads before 9.30am unless in an emergency.
David Stewart continued “ I later learned from Bear Scotland that in fact BT Openreach had discovered through the night that a manhole cover at this location looked likely to collapse and they set up the temporary traffic lights. This utility company did not advise Bear Scotland and they did not have the temporary lights manned through peak rush hour. First of all I am content that the lights were set up in good faith for a valid and urgent reason, but communication with the operating company clearly did not happen, or indeed anyone else including the media. There did not appear to be warnings of tail backs likely given to the motoring public. Had Bear Scotland been informed of this incident they would have ensured that the temporary lights were manned during rush hour.
I hope this information reassures the motoring public that there was a valid reason for this particular set of temporary traffic lights, albeit there was a total break down in communication between BT Openreach and Bear Scotland or indeed anyone else.
The message we should take out of this is that temporary traffic lights will be set up on trunk roads during peak hours in emergency cases only and then if set up, they should be manned at these peak times. If this does not happen then contact should be made with the operating company or Police Scotland Roads Policing Unit.
“Reducing driver frustration continues to be something I and my team at NOSDAT (North Of Scotland Driver Awareness Team) are determined to tackle.