Nearly 500 drivers were caught speeding on one stretch of a major north-east road over the last three years, new figures show.
Statistics obtained through Freedom of Information powers show mobile cameras caught 480 people driving in excess of the speed limit on the A96 between Inverurie and Huntly.
In some instances drivers were clocked speeding at more than 100 mph.
The figures also show there were four fatalities and 26 serious crashes on the same stretch of road over the three-year period, which covers March 2018 to March 2021.
That has prompted calls from the Scottish Conservatives for transport chiefs to provide an update on the project to upgrade the road, which is the main route from Aberdeen to Inverurie, Huntly, Elgin and Inverness.
Alexander Burnett, the Tories’ candidate in Aberdeenshire West at next month’s Holyrood election, described the road as a “death trap” and claimed it is “not fit for purpose” in its current form, while also criticising those guilty of speeding.
“In its present state, the A96 is a death trap and commuters want to see the right upgrades happen at the correct places,” he said.
“That is why the consultations are vital to ensure residents aren’t affected and our beauty spots aren’t tarnished.
“Looking at the Scottish Government’s latest infrastructure plan, just £20 million will be spent on this £3 billion project between now and 2026.
“It’s clear some stretches of the route aren’t fit for purpose and to see speeding of this nature is hugely worrying.
“The figures highlight the need for safety improvements to be made on the route which in its present form, leads to dangerous manoeuvres such as blind overtaking on narrow parts of the road.
“In our north-east manifesto, we are committed to investing in our local infrastructure like the A96 as part of rebooting our economy.
“After what’s come to light, I question whether the SNP will do the same, instead solely focussing on the central belt’s M8 and M9.”
Transport secretary Michael Matheson insisted the SNP was committed to improving transport links in the north-east.
“As part of the SNP’s manifesto we have made a number of commitments to improve connectivity in the north of Scotland including the dualling of the A96 and the A9,” he said.
“We are also continuing to make progress in upgrading the A82. Despite the Tories cutting our capital budget by 5% we continue to make improvements to Scotland’s connectivity.
“As part of our commitment to improving connectivity in the north of Scotland we will improve rail-links in the area by building a new station at Inverness airport, our key priority will be to upgrade the Highland Main Line and continuing upgrades and improvements to the Inverness to Aberdeen line – cutting down journey times and encouraging more people to make their journey by rail.”
A spokesman for Transport Scotland, the Scottish Government’s transport agency, added: “Latest figures show casualties on Scotland’s roads are at their lowest levels since records began. We’ve seen a 35% increase in traffic over the past 25 years but a 66% decrease in road collisions across the same period.
“We need to build on what we’ve achieved and our recently published and previously announced new framework will do so through a sharper focus, improved evaluation, more specific targets and stronger connections between national and local levels.
“We are also continuing to progress our ambitious plans to dual the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen. We are continuing to advance the detailed development and assessment of the preferred option for the east of Huntly to Aberdeen section, having announced the preferred option in December.
“Delivery of the scheme itself can only commence when it is approved under the relevant statutory procedures and thereafter a timetable for construction can be set.”
Police Scotland insisted it will continue to tackle those who speed on the north-east’s roads.
Inspector Lorraine Mackie of the force’s road policing unit said: “Road safety continues to remain a priority for North East Division and I would urge motorists to watch their speed. Excessive or inappropriate speed increases both the likelihood of a collision and the severity of injuries. It is tragic, unnecessary and avoidable but sadly is happening all too often.
“I would encourage motorists to reduce their speed and drive within the set speed limit, according to the changing road and weather conditions that they encounter.
“We routinely conduct patrols in the north-east focussing on speeding, along with all other road traffic offences. We will continue to enforce Operation CEDaR (challenge, educate, detect and reduce) to ensure we reduce road crime and casualties on our roads.
“We will continue to take action to improve road safety and ask that anyone who has concerns about other road users report it to us on 101.”