MORE than 360 road smash accidents are reported to police EVERY MONTH – according to a shock league table revealing Edinburgh’s fender-bender hotspots.
The worrying statistic has emerged from official police road accident figures, taken from the last three years, which paint a stark picture of the Capital’s roads during a period of changed priorities and non-stop tramworks.
The New Town had the highest volume of accidents with nearly six a week, with the city centre itself racking up 2256 over three years.
Kirkliston, which includes the M9, was the scene of 512 reported accidents over the three-year period, while 497 took place in Longstone.
Over those three years, 3568 road accidents resulted in a personal injury, with the vast majority involving “shunts and bumps”.
The accident map also revealed the number of these crashes which involved a drunk driver snared by police.
Across the Capital, Trinity/Wardie had the highest proportion, with nearly six per cent of its accidents involving a motorist over the limit. Granton and Morningside were among the areas where more than four per cent of accidents involved a driver who had been drinking. The drink driving figures were today branded “despicable” and “very disappointing” and come after the Scottish Government unveiled plans to lower the drink drive limit.
The police figures show that 13,051 accidents were reported to the force in Edinburgh between April 2009 and the end of March last year.
Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s transport leader, said: “These figures do seem high on the face of it, but what they don’t show is the severity of the different accidents recorded.
“The vast majority of these will relate to accidents which caused vehicle damage but no injuries. Our figures indicate that of this 13,051 total, 3568 incidents resulted in personal injury.
“In any case, just one accident would be one too many and it is encouraging there is a general downward trend. Through our Road Safety Plan, the council and our partners, including the police, are committed to working together towards ‘Vision Zero’ and the provision of a modern road network where all users are safe from the risk of being killed or seriously injured.”
Lord Provost Donald Wilson, who represents the Sighthill/Gorgie ward which includes Longstone, said he was “quite surprised” at its status near the top of the accident blackspot list. He said: “It may be because of Calder Road, which I think falls within the area. It’s a four-lane road and one of the most popular approaches to the city. It also has a number of roundabouts and that might contribute to the accident ratio. The issue of accidents is not one which has been particularly flagged up to me by residents in Longstone but that may be because those involved in accidents are passing through rather than living there.”
Figures released last year showed that Edinburgh had the eighth highest proportion of injuries in road accidents among Scottish local authorities. A study, published by the Scottish Government, showed that 2.77 people were injured on the roads for every 1000 in the population during 2011.
In comparison, the figure for Glasgow was 2.64, Dundee was 2.04 and Aberdeen was 1.86. Stirling was higher than the Capital with 3.24.
In Edinburgh during that year, ten people were killed and 166 seriously injured and a total of 1362 individuals sustained an injury of some kind.
The most recent road death came on Sunday, when a new father was killed when a lorry collided with his Honda CRX at the Clovenstone Roundabout in Wester Hailes Road.
Ross Graham, 22, died at the scene while his partner, Christina Vibert, 26, was left fighting for her life at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. The couple had a daughter, Cali, in November.
Neil Greig, director of policy at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “Only about 200 road accidents a year in Scotland result in a fatality so the massive majority of these accidents will be on the less severe and minor scale.
“I think what these figures show is that we can’t be complacent when it comes to road safety. A lot of people will look at these numbers and think, ‘Oh my goodness, 13,000 is really high’.
“It shows drivers are still having bangs and shunts and other accidents and that is due to human error. We have new car designs and road safety designs which are trying to minimise accidents but the fact is people have to drive cars. That is why the message about road safety needs to continue.”
In Trinity/Wardie, eight of the 141 vehicle accidents over the three years involved a drunk driver. Councillor Allan Jackson, whose Forth ward includes Trinity/Wardie, said: “Over the last year I’m aware that some of the bumps here involved drivers who were over the limit.”
Cllr Steve Cardownie, the city’s deputy leader who also represents the Forth ward, said: “These figures lay bear what has been going on. It’s despicable that people who have been drinking get behind the wheel as these vehicles are essentially turned in to lethal weapons.
“I recently attended the funeral of a neighbour killed by an alleged drunk driver who mounted a pavement. It’s sickening to hear of examples where drunk drivers cause fatalities then walk away from an accident unscathed.”
A police spokesman said: “Anyone caught driving while under the influence will be dealt with to the full extent of the law, which is likely to mean the loss of their driving license, a fine, and the possibility that they could lose their vehicle.”
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “It’s clear from these figures that some drivers still think it’s okay to drink and drive. That is absolutely deplorable in this day and age and these people are finding out the hard way that their actions will be met with the full force of the law.
“This government has made it clear that we want a lower drink driving limit as we believe it will help make Scotland’s roads safer.”