MOTORISTS travelling on the M8 and M9 through West Lothian are among the most likely in the UK to be killed or injured in a winter car crash, new figures have revealed.
The local authority ranked fourth highest of 206 areas for the number of injuries and deaths related to winter conditions last year, the Department for Transport has said.
According to the figures, 162 people from every 100,000 of the population were killed or injured last year while driving in rainy, icy or snowy conditions.
It comes just months after a 49-year-old father of three, Wayne Strickland, was killed on the M8 in a four-vehicle collision near Livingston.
Now the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), which obtained the figures under Freedom of Information laws, is urging drivers to be sensible behind the wheel.
APIL president Neil Sugarman said: “Some injuries could have been easily avoided had it not been for bad habits such as driving too close to the car in front.
“According to the Highway Code the average stopping distance, when driving at 30mph on dry roads, is six car lengths.
“In wet weather this doubles and when it is icy it is ten times longer. Taking care to avoid bad habits like ‘tailgating’ could make a big difference in preventing injuries, and even deaths, on our roads this winter.”
The three worst areas were City of London with 272 injuries or deaths, Argyll and Bute with 192 and Powys with 184.
Tom Conn, executive councillor for environment at West Lothian Council, put the poor ranking down to stormy weather and more traffic.
He said: “Two motorways, the M8 and M9, cross West Lothian and any accidents which occur on the stretches crossing through West Lothian are notified to the council.
“With regards to the reported vehicle accidents in 2015 the figure can be attributed to storms in January and the closure of the Forth Road Bridge during December.
“The closure of the Forth Road Bridge diverted large volumes of traffic from outwith West Lothian in both directions onto the motorways and other local roads.
“Our message to all drivers is to slow down and follow the Highway Code.”
George Paul, executive councillor for services for the community, added: “Drivers are responsible for their vehicles and the way that they drive all year round. Police Scotland’s website has good advice about driving in the winter.”
Midlothian was ranked seventh with 133 deaths or injuries per 100,000 people, while East Lothian recorded 86, giving it a lower ranking of 81st.
A Midlothian Council spokesman said: “The safety of our residents is paramount on all roads in Midlothian, whether we actively manage these roads or if they are looked after by partner agencies such as Transport Scotland. Overall our message is that motorists should always drive in accordance with the prevailing conditions.”
Edinburgh City recorded the lowest ranking of the Lothians region, coming 97th out of 206 with 79.9 deaths or injuries per 100,000 of the population.
Advice from Police Scotland for driving in poor conditions include reducing speed and using dipped headlights.