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Police Scotland issue advice for those travelling on the North Coast 500 (NC500) tourist route which runs through Caithness

By Ian Duncan

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Officers and vehicles from Police Scotland.
Officers and vehicles from Police Scotland.

The North Coast 500 (NC500) in the Highlands has been described as one of the world’s most beautiful road trips.

A Police Scotland spokesman said that whilst the increase of visitors looking to experience the beautiful country was welcome officers were saddened to see the increase in complaints of poor driving and speeding along the route.

Those local to the area and visitors are asked to consider the following advice in a bid to increase driving standards:

• Many roads in the Highlands area are classified as rural roads so prepare for the unexpected, as you never know what could be round the corner;

• Drive at a speed that doesn’t affect your decision-making ability – this could be well below the speed limit;

• Look out for blind summits and hidden dips. Keep an eye on road signs and slow down as you approach;

• Single-track roads – these are only wide enough for one vehicle and you will see signs for ‘passing places’. If you observe a vehicle travelling towards you – or the driver behind wants to overtake – pull into a passing place on your left or wait opposite a passing place on your right. Do not park in passing places;

• Give way to vehicles coming uphill whenever you can. If necessary, reverse until you reach a passing place to let the other vehicle pass;

• Be prepared for pedestrians, horse riders, cyclists, farm livestock or wild animals moving from one side of the road to the other. Allow yourself enough time and space to move either into a passing place or off the road;

• Always reduce your speed on the approach to built-up areas;

• Fasten your seat belt – it could make a crucial difference to you and your passengers in the event of a crash;

• Prepare for the unexpected – you might know the road like the back of your hand, but conditions and other traffic are always changing;

• Put away any distractions. Ignore your phone and do not attempt to set your Sat-Nav while driving.

Inspector Donnie Mackinnon of the Highland and Islands Road Policing Unit said “We recognise that the Highlands and Islands and particularly the NC500 road network carries large numbers of local and visitor traffic and through Operation Cedar (challenge, educate, detect and reduce) we are committed to tackling poor driving standards and reducing casualties across the North of Scotland.

"We are utilising marked and unmarked car patrols and marked motorcycle patrols alongside our colleagues in the Safety Camera Unit who are deployed in various locations.

"The Highlands and Islands are there to be enjoyed and I would like to emphasise the importance of respecting other road users and those who live in our communities which can be achieved through patient, safe and responsible driving.”

Eric Dunion, Police Scotland’s north safety camera unit manager said “We are keen for all those travelling on the roads in the North of Scotland to have an enjoyable experience.

"This summer we are enforcing at locations identified by our road policing and local authority colleagues under the short term deployment scheme.

"Details of all enforcement locations can be found on our website. I would urge all motorists to modify their behaviour, follow the advice listed above, and travel within the speed limits which are in place for the safety of all road users.”

Craig Mills, head of operations for NC500 said “We work very closely with Police Scotland and absolutely endorse both the message and the approach to responsible road use.

"Regardless of why you are driving or riding on the roads around the North Highlands, we would encourage everyone to adhere to the responsible driving standards that are set out by the police.”

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