A prominent road safety campaigner from Skye recounted her own harrowing car crash experience to a leading roads official this week as part of a campaign to stop visiting motorists driving on the wrong side of the road.
Sharon Anslow launched the ‘Keep Left’ campaign in early 2019 after she was injured in a crash near Sligachan while avoiding an oncoming vehicle driving in the middle of the road. A foreign tourist was issued with a fixed penalty fine on account of dashcam footage from the accident.
At Tuesday’s meeting in Tigh na Sgire in Portree Ms Anslow revisited photographs of the accident as she sought to impress upon Transport Scotland director of roads Hugh Gillies that action needed to be taken.
After the meeting Ms Anslow told the Free Press: “I went straight in with a pile of photographs and I showed exactly what had happened. I showed them the car; the back seat of the vehicle that had the baby seat completely ripped out of it. On that day they told me if I had my children in the car, they would have been dead.
“It is such a personal approach and it definitely hits home a lot more. We can put as many signs and arrows on the road but as you have probably seen on the video via the Raging Roads Skye and Lochalsh Facebook page, which shows a guy driving over the arrows – obviously that’s just not enough.”
She went on to say: “It has to start much further back than that, such as at the hire car companies, making sure people are getting the proper direction. Could lane assistance be given as an optional extra? Could there be a sat nav prompt to keep left – if they can remind you to take a left then why can’t they tell you what side of the road you’re supposed to be on?”
Ms Anslow said she was encouraged by the meeting but appreciated that the measures required could not be introduced overnight.
She added: “It was really productive, it was positive. Obviously, Mr Gillies was reluctant to make any promises that he felt he couldn’t keep. However, he took everything on board and he certainly made a commitment to look into the ideas and other suggestions that we have.
“It’s not going to be a quick fix. Kate Forbes has been really behind this campaign and supported it, so she has a few bits she is going to follow up, and hopefully, Mr Gillies will pick up the rest – so we will wait and get a progress report.
“The is a lot of things that could happen sooner rather than later, but also it’s about a longer-term plan as well.”
The meeting was organised by local MSP Kate Forbes, who been a supporter of the campaign since it started. Gordon MacDonald, Highland Council senior roads engineer and Willie MacKinnon, Highland Council ward manager for Eilean a’ Cheo were also present at the meeting.
Commenting to the Free Press, the member for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch echoed Ms Anslow’s sentiments.
Ms Forbes said: “This was a very successful meeting for the ‘Keep Left’ Campaign. Today’s meeting allowed Sharon Anslow to share her experiences and requests directly with one of the most senior officials in Transport Scotland.
“I invited Mr Gillies, as the head of roads at Transport Scotland, to meet with Sharon and to hear her personal account directly. I am delighted that he accepted that invitation and came to Skye on Tuesday.
“Mr Gillies was very receptive and shared more details about how Transport Scotland is improving road safety. He also listened carefully to Sharon and agreed to take away specific actions.
Ms Forbes commended Ms Anslow for the progress she had made since her accident and went on to add: “Organisations, including Police Scotland, Highland Council and Transport Scotland have all been quick to offer support.
“The most successful step was taken in June when Transport Scotland launched a nation-wide campaign to promote safer driving amongst tourists. Working closely with car hire companies, the leaflets and wrist bands have been well advertised and used.”
Article by Adam Gordon.