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According to a study released on Thursday, the condition of roads in the Scottish Borders is deteriorating faster than in other rural areas around Scotland.

The Borders are a stunning area of our country and cherished by day trippers to the many quaint villages, tourists and used as transport routes, particularly along many rural roads, such as the A68. The roads are therefore frequently used by all manner of vehicles, including motorcyclists, cyclists and lorry drivers. The news therefore that, according to a recent study, the condition of roads in the Scottish Borders is deteriorating at a faster rate than in other rural areas around Scotland is worrisome not only for the local community, but also for all road users passing through the region.

Scottish BordersGiven that we are steadily approaching autumn and an inevitably wet winter, these roads will take a further battering, which is only likely to deteriorate their condition further. To read that nearly half of the roads in the Scottish Borders are either in poor condition or in need of investigation should be ringing alarm bells for all those with responsibility for road infrastructure in the Borders.  It is a relatively simple concept to understand here. The worse the condition in which a road is, the more likely it is that a road traffic accident will occur. There is a clear relationship between the quality of a road surface and the prospect of an accident occurring, because an uneven or damaged road will present a danger to all road users, be that a motorcyclist or a car driver. This is particularly relevant in the Borders in which there are frequently twisting and turning roads of various gradients, which present challenging driving conditions during the winter months, because damage to a road surface around a bend could easily cause a driver to lose control.

Given that many of the routes are national speed limit zones, a road in a poor condition presents a greater danger to road users than it would present if the speed limit were lower speeds as the prospect of losing control of a vehicle is more likely at higher speeds than lower speeds. Indeed, according to a report from 2013, 1754 people were killed on Britain’s roads in 2012, with close to 60% killed on roads with speed limits above 40mph.  The death rate in Scotland was higher than in the rest of the UK at a rate of 32 deaths per million.  The routes around the Borders are frequented regularly by motorcyclists who are naturally more vulnerable to poor road conditions than car users. Therefore, urgent action is required to prevent frequent road traffic accidents on the Borders roads. Local authorities have a duty to maintain road surfaces in such a way as to ensure that they do not present a danger to road users utilising them. It is, however, important that they are made aware of such issues and encouraged to fix them as quickly as possible in all the circumstances.

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