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Stay Local - Stay Safe message for Aberdeenshire as travel rule changes come into effect

By David Porter

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With Spring in the air and the imminent relaxation of some Covid 19 related travel restrictions, north-east residents are being urged to use the roads safely when they return to making longer journeys.

As of this Friday, April 2, the ‘Stay at Home’ regulations will be lifted and replaced with guidance to ‘Stay Local’ which will enable residents to leave their homes, however they will be asked not to travel beyond their own local authority boundary for non-essential reasons.

This change will remain in place for three weeks and on Monday, April 26 wider travel across Scotland will then be permitted.

Cycling safely is more important than ever
Cycling safely is more important than ever

The ‘Stay Local’ changes will occur when many local schoolchildren are on holiday and with restrictions continuing on international travel, families will likely be spending time enjoying the various attractions the north-east has to offer.

It also follows quickly on from the transfer to British Summer Time on Sunday which will bring increased daylight hours and more opportunities to enjoy outdoor pursuits.

During the past 12 months the various lockdown periods have seen increased numbers of pedestrians and pedal cyclists using the road, while motor vehicle travel has reduced and traffic patterns have changed.

While confirmed statistics are not yet available, initial data suggests that the number of road collisions and casualties has fallen during 2020 and in the first months of 2021.

This reduction is welcomed, however, as restrictions ease, vehicular traffic is likely to increase and all road users need to play their part in helping to keep the roads safe for everyone.

Commenting on the months ahead, Ewan Wallace, head of Transportation at Aberdeenshire council and chair of Road Safety North East Scotland, said: “With some Covid-19 related travel restrictions ending soon, we anticipate that roads across north-east Scotland will be busier in the weeks and months ahead.

“Analysis of collision data shows that the late Spring and early summer months have previously seen increased numbers of road casualties across north-east Scotland, particularly among children, motorcyclists and pedal cyclists.

"It would be particularly disappointing if the travel changes which we’ve all eagerly awaited lead to increases in road collisions and casualties.

“Children have had a particularly challenging year and will doubtless be keen to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.

"Make sure any children being carried in vehicles are suitably restrained using properly-fitted seatbelts and child seats.

"If walking, be careful when crossing the road and, when using a footpath, always try to place an adult between the child and the road edge - especially when in a live traffic situation.

He continued: “After reduced opportunities last year, many motorcyclists will be looking forward to returning to the road in 2021.

"Sadly, the improved weather and riding conditions usually coincides with peaks in motorcycle collisions and with many motorcyclists likely having had limited outings in 2020, they are urged to ride with particular care and allow their two-wheeled skills to re-establish themselves.

“During the Covid-19 restrictions, several pedal cycle retailers have reported significant increases in sales, meaning that more cyclists will likely be using the road.

"The north-east has various routes that are attractive to cyclists and the key message is that the roads have to be safely shared by a range of road users.

“The proposed reopening of the hospitality sector is a welcome development across north-east Scotland, however, the risks associated with drink-driving are all too clear.

"While it may be appealing to enjoy an alcoholic drink outdoors with friends or family on a beautiful day, the risks of then driving are immense – not only to the driver but to other road users in general.

"The only safe approach is to avoid drinking alcohol if you’re driving.

“With an increased ability to travel, it is likely that popular locations for leisure pursuits will receive a large number of visitors.

"Vehicle parking may be limited and motorists are encouraged to check in advance to see if there is any information on social media about car-parking capacity being reached.

"Motorists should always park safely, without blocking junctions or obstructing the road, which will allow larger vehicles including fire appliances and ambulances to pass unhindered.

“The ‘stay safe’ message we’ve all grown accustomed to can be easily transferred into a road safety context, and we hope that all road users will remain safe on North-east roads in the weeks and months ahead.”

You can follow RSNES on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/roadsafetynes

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