A north politician wants the Scottish Government to review its speed restrictions for trucks.
Labour’s David Stewart has questioned why the limit for HGVs in England and Wales has been increased across the board from 40mph to 50mph while in Scotland the only pilot scheme is on the A9 between Inverness and Perth.
The Highlands and Islands MSP has suggested a compromise of a second – on the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen.
Mr Stewart successfully campaigned for the introduction of a 50mph limit for trucks on the A9, which was implemented last October.
He said: “I fully realise there are those who think increasing the speed limit for HGVs is an unsafe measure, but the fact is that research has shown that it is the opposite. What is unsafe is long tailbacks following HGVs at 40mph.
“HGVs should pull over. But economics dictate that goods need to get from A to B in a set time. HGVs cannot possibly pull over every time there are a few cars behind them, so frustration comes to the forefront, the red mist comes down and driver behaviour takes a turn for the worse and they undertake a manoeuvre that is not safe.”
Mr Stewart is discussing the issue with the National Farming Union of Scotland (NFUS) and has written to Transport Minister Derek Mackay and the Scottish Government agency Transport Scotland about the “scarcity” of laybys on the A96 between Inverness and Keith.
NFU Scotland Highland regional chairman Jim Whiteford, from Tain, said: “As operators of slow moving agricultural machinery, farmers have an important role to play in road safety.
“To avoid queues building up and frustration levels rising, we ask farmers to consider pulling in, when it is safe and legal to do so, and allowing faster moving traffic to pass, rejoining the road safely after the queue of traffic has gone by.
“If we are to improve road safety, it is a reasonable request that all busy roads like the A96 have a ready number of suitable places for large, agricultural vehicles and trailers to pull into. We welcome David Stewart bringing it to the attention of Transport Scotland and the minister responsible.”
Highland truck driver Conor McKenna said: “I am more than happy to work with David Stewart MSP again to try and introduce an increase in HGV speed from 40mph to 50mph.
“We were successful last time round and I think the benefits are there for all to see. It is crazy that in England and Wales you can drive a truck at 50mph but once you cross the border you have to reduce to 40mph.
“It is particularly galling when you consider we were at the forefront of the change last year, copied by the UK Government this year and now they have gone the full way and we have be left lagging behind.”