Are no right turns the answer for Laurieston by-pass blackspot?

Another accident on a historically dangerous stretch of road has led to further calls for steps to be taken to make it safer before someone is killed.

The two car collision which happened just after 9am on Thursday, April 25, at the Grandsable Road junction on the A9 Laurieston bypass led to a motorist being taken to Forth Valley Royal Hospital as a precaution.

Police are still investigating the cause of the collision, but there have been more than a few similar smashes in that area of the road in the past – back in 2009 there were so many collisions that Falkirk Council had to put a sign up reminding drivers to cancel their indicators after coming off Cadgers Brae roundabout.

This most recent incident has led to calls for right hand turns to be banned on the road – meaning motorists coming out of the Klondyke Garden Centre and the Grandsable Road further up, would only be able to turn left and use the roundabout at Icehouse Brae to head back down the by pass if they need to head back towards Cadgers Brae roundabout.

Falkirk Council did not comment on the possibility of banning right turns on the road, but did reveal improvements were soon to be made.

A council spokesperson said: “We haven’t seen a detailed report of this particular RTA but can confirm that improvement works are already planned to take place at Cadger’s Brae roundabout.

“This will include the installation of traffic signals to improve traffic flow and junction efficiency. There is also a future proposal to form a roundabout at the junction of Grandsable Road and the A9 bypass, which is also intended to increase junction capacity and to better manage traffic queues.”

Lindsay Pyall, a member of Forth Valley Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), is familiar with the road.

He said: “If the suggestion is to make the by-pass a no right turn road then I don’t see it being too much of a problem. You have roundabouts at both ends – Cadgers Brae and the Icehouse Brae roundabout – so it would not take people too far out of their way.

“You could also drop the speed on the road. There’s a time and place for speed limits and I think if you made the road a 40mph limit that might be another option to increase safety.”

The month of July in 2009 saw the dangers posed by Laurieston by-pass really come to a head.

A road smash – like last Thursday’s collision – happened near Grandsable Road junction and left two people requiring medical treatment for their injuries. It was the third week in a row an accident had taken place on the same stretch of road.

Chief Inspector Donald McMillan, who was then the officer in charge of road policing for Central Scotland, stopped short of labelling that area of road an accident blackspot, but he did admit he was concerned more serious incidents were just around the corner if something was not done quickly.

He said: “There have been a lot of accidental collisions on this particular stretch of the A9. I’m not aware of any potentially life-threatening incidents occurring on the road for a considerable number of years.

“However, there have been a number of serious collisions and bumps that tend to be of the slower speed variety involving people coming out of junctions at Icehouse Brae and Grandsable Road. You have the potential there for a high-speed collision if a car travelling on the road meets one coming out from the junction.

“It’s a well-known road and gets a lot of attention from our patrols in late evening and early morning especially. I think the biggest issue on that road is speeding – we have detected some vehicles travelling along there at speeds in excess of 100 mph.”

Ten years ago Mr Pyall’s IAM colleague Angus Maciver gave The Falkirk Herald the benefit of his driving knowledge and expertise when it came to negotiating the by-pass and its junctions.

At the time Mr Maciver said: “It’s the most dangerous road in the Falkirk area and can be difficult to negotiate safely because of the road layout – it’s almost like a dual carriageway – and the junctions.

“You have traffic moving at high speed and cars pulling out into their path.”

According to the IAM, 90 per cent of all collisions are caused by driver error and Mr Maciver believed this was the case with the majority of accidents on the bypass.

“Roads often get the blame when accidents happen,” he said. “But it’s often drivers with poor skill levels or people driving aggressively who cause the accidents. Put it this way, if everyone was an advanced driver then you wouldn’t have the same number of accidents on that road.”

Mr Maciver listed the four main danger areas on the Laurieston bypass – the pedestrian crossing at The Bog roundabout end, the junctions at Icehouse Brae, the junctions at Grandsable Road and the junction at Klondyke Garden Centre.

Back in 2009 Mr Maciver’s advice to safely negotiate the road included tips on good forward observation, making sure you are aware of the traffic, slowing down when approaching junctions and making eye contact with other drivers at junctions – if they are not looking back at you then they cannot see you and could be about to pull out.

Ten years on and it appears there are still those not heeding his advice.