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Orkney earns ‘unenviable’ Scottish record for fatalities on its roads

The side of a Scottish fire truck.
The fire service was called to the fire in Culloden this afternoon.

Orkney now has the highest rate of fatalities due to road traffic collisions per 10,000 population in Scotland, according to fire service data.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SRFS) attended 14 road traffic collisions in the local authority area over the last year. Four people were killed in these collisions.

The figure for Orkney road deaths from the four years before was either zero or one.

According to the SRFS data, the newest figure means Orkney now has the highest five-year average for RTC fatalities in Scotland, per 10,000 population.

Seven fatalities over five years have given the isles county a rate of 3.13. For comparison, the lowest was seen in East Dunbartonshire, with 0.09.

The number of RTCs attended has also seen an upward trend over the last five years. In the two years between 2018 and 2020 the figure was nine in each year. From 2020 to 2021 it was 12.  Now it’s 14.

Fourteen collisions, four fatalities

The figures were presented at a recent meeting of Orkney Council’s Police and Fire Sub-Committee by station commander at Kirkwall Community Fire Station John McKenna.

He stressed that these were only figures for RTCs attended by the SRFS. The police and ambulance services will have attended even more.

He said Orkney road deaths now has “an unenviable record” – but the fire service is committed to turning this around.

A multi-agency road safety event is due to take place in the centre of Kirkwall on July 2.

Speaking to the LDR service recently, Mr McKenna said he noticed a trend in RTCs after he began his job in Orkney a year ago.

However, he could offer no explanation of what has contributed to the rise in incidents, as the SRFS doesn’t carry out that kind of analysis.

He said: “Firefighters are well aware of the devastating aftermath of road traffic collisions for all those involved.

“We know that statistics vary considerably each year and sadly in Orkney, seven people have been killed in these types of incidents over the past five years. Four of those were in the last year.”

Road safety event to take place next month

“We fully support initiatives that help reduce serious injuries and fatalities.

“At the Kirkwall safety event, our crews will provide virtual reality headsets to give people a stark experience of what it’s like to be involved in a road traffic collision.

“We’ll also demonstrate CPR and specialist equipment used to safely extract casualties trapped within a vehicle.”

Mr McKenna said there’s evidence that a road safety event will reduce Orkney road deaths. After they held the last one, the SRFS didn’t record one in the five years after.

Aside from the SRFS, the Scottish Ambulance Service, Road Safety Forum and Police Scotland will be involved.

It is hoped there will be a speaker from the charity Spinal Injuries Scotland. The SRFS will demonstrate a vehicle extrication demo Broad Street, Kirkwall.

The Orkney road safety event will take place on Saturday, 2 July at Broad Street, Kirkwall, between 9am and 2pm.

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