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Shetland roads in Winter


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Guest Anonymous

( *** MOD EDIT *** - Topic name changed from "shetland roads" to reflect the subject and thread moved to 'Shetland News' 29/12/07)

 

i am one of the persons involved in the car crash on xmas day i am so sick of the shetland council not gritting the roads as i pay my road tax and council tax how can they get away with me howie griffiths the driver of the land rover discovery i am going to get a layer to take my case as they where 6 of us in the landrover one was my little girl 19 mounths old my partner and 3 other children involved i will sue the council for what i think is right

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I certainly agree that the council has a duty of care to motorists and by choosing not to treat roads on Christmas and New Years days they are failing in that duty. In fact I would also argue that the same should apply to overnight gritting. Motorists have surely got the right to expect that the major roads be kept clear and it surely has to be right that essential road users such as doctors are able to use safe roads at all times. Now if only I was a lawyer.

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The council may well be leaving themselves open to action, as I understand that their duty to grit roads is hedged in fairly ambiguous terms, but I am not sure if the circumstances in this particular case are so much against them....

 

As far as I know the road was salted on Christmas eve, and only a short length of road was affected by ice.

The council uses some form of ice prediction software using the weather stations you can see online, so it's not very certain to me that they would have been gritting that road on a day with normal service - it would depend what the system said, and as it was localized icing, it might not have said anything that would have called out the gritters anyway.

 

The balance of salting or not really comes down to costs, should salting be carried out more/less often at a higher/lower cost? The winter maintenance budget is quite a big chunk of money as it is, and with cuts being looked at..... maybe we will have to stop assuming the roads will always be ice free?

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In the 70's and 80's the roads were only gritted during the after ice formed on them. I've found myself travelling sideways more than once after hitting a patch of black ice. I confess to being a bit blase about hitting a patch of ice nowadays as the SIC seems to grit and salt the main roads in the evening if frost is forecast, plus the weather is milder now.

 

The SIC has a set of maps showing gritter routes and priorities here.

 

http://www.shetland.gov.uk/roadsmaintenance/winter.asp

 

The Winter Service typically consumes about 20% of our operational road maintenance budget,
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I think it should be pointed out that it is at the drivers discretion as to whether or not they should take to the roads in poor weather conditions. Too many people (myself included) drive when the weather conditions are poor.

 

I can't comment on the night in question as I was neither in the area where the accidents happened nor can I recall the weather conditions that day/night.

 

The council can only provide a certain amount of protection against accidents such as these.

 

It is not very often that I defend the council but in this case I don't think that there is too much more they could have done.

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Pooks wrote

I think it should be pointed out that it is at the drivers discretion as to whether or not they should take to the roads in poor weather conditions. Too many people (myself included) drive when the weather conditions are poor.

 

Not 100% at the drivers discretion. Fire, police, ambulance, coastguards and emergency doctors do not have that choice. Also essential workers such as hospital and care home staff need to get to and from work. And since our council is happy to licence pubs to be open way into the small hours the bar staff need to get home and of course taxis are needed to take the drinkers home.

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Guest Anonymous

i will sue the council as i PAY ROAD TAX and council tax shetland council do not care for anybody on the isles as we are sooth moothers i have a case as i have wrote a letter to the scottish goverment as they can do something about gritting the roads i had 4 children in the car as well as my wife as we were driving to a freinds house to spend xmas all the way down from unst there was no ice on the roads so we were ok to travel so these people who go on and say that we should have stayed home well our council members had to travel to a meeting and the weather was bad they would go so if they crashed the gritter would have been out on the roads as i was the first to crash they the gritters should have gritted the roads anyone who was involved in the xmas road smashes you can get in touch with me at howie402005@aol.com

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Pooks wrote

I still think that it is difficult for the council to know the state of every last inch of Shetlands roads though. They seem to do a pretty good job of keeping the majority of the main roads well gritted during the winter season.

 

Fair enough, they do a good job during the hours that the service is provided but the peculiar decision not to offer a gritting service on Christmas and New Years days needs a rethink. After all on both days people do go out visiting and should be able to do so safely.

 

Yes I agree that having to work might spoil Christmas or New Year for the gritter drivers but there are plenty of other people have to work on those days.

 

Having said that I am in favour of gritters going out on Christmas day I do wonder if they would have been out this Christmas. From memory the forecast and the data from the council's road monitoring stations did not indicate that there would be icy roads and it seems to me that the Voe area experienced some sort of local weather anomaly. Maybe some sort of ice warning signs linked to sensors would have helped.

 

Let us all hope that the new year is crash free.

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I am having difficulty understanding your reply Stuajan.

 

Do you believe that the council do not care for anybody on the isles because you are from outwith Shetland? Or is it that because you are from outwith Shetland that you have a case?

 

Just because there was no ice on the roads in Unst doesn't mean that conditions may not deteriorate elsewhere.

 

I can accept that if the road was in a particularly poor condition then the emergency services and the council should have done something to make people aware. Whether this be getting a gritter to the location and/or erecting signs to make people aware it should have been done after the first incident.

 

The Shetland Islands Council website gives guidelines on winter driving and states quite clearly that there is no gritting on Christmas Day.

 

Look out for ice. Black ice can be a particular danger; it is not readily visible and can persist or recur even after the road surface has been treated with salt. Conditions can change quickly; icy patches are possible on a road that is generally clear of frost. Dawn frosts are quite common; first light with a clear sky will allow heat to radiate quickly from the road surface causing icy patches to form on a wet or damp road. If in doubt, please slow down.
In winter conditions, drivers travelling in the evening, overnight or early morning (or on Christmas Day or New Year's Day) should exercise extra care for their own safety and the safety of others, in the knowledge that salting, gritting or snow clearing operations are not normally carried out during those times.

 

If you must drive in difficult winter conditions, check out weather forecasts to help you plan your journey. If you require a road condition report, contact:

 

Roads - Telephone 01595 744866 (office hours, extended during bad snow conditions)

 

(In an Emergency, you may contact the Police on 01595 692110)

 

I really don't think that court action will help in this matter. Had the council failed to grit a piece of road during published gritting hours then this might be a different matter. I believe it would be thrown out of court and do nothing but waste the time and money of yourself and the council.

 

Why not campaign to have the council change the gritting times and dates instead? This way you might not have the same problem next year.

 

Shetland has some of the best roads in the country considering the rural aspects. There are some that is definitely in need of repair as well. The road tax that you pay keeps them in a good condition as well as paying for the gritting service when there is icy conditions.

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Guest Anonymous

I hate to state the obvious, but, anybody, blaming somebody else for their bad driving isn't really the solution.

As the police continually state. "Drivers should be aware of possible dangers on the roads, especially in winter, and drive accordingly".

 

Where I live there is no gritting of roads, but everybody has the common sense to be aware of possibly dangerous conditions, such as knowing that any time the temperature is below 3 or 4 centigrade, and even with higher temperatures, certain valleys can have a problem with ice.

 

But, having said that. The US culture of suing everybody for everything is becoming much more common in the UK, and sadly in Shetland. Although I wouldn't like to try to sue them over something like this, as it's an obvious no winner, unless you've got more money to spend on lawyers than the SIC.

 

And while I'm in bitchin' mood.. Suing everybody is a bad enough trend to import from the US, but writing in lower case only is a damned sight worse. :evil:

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i will sue the council as i PAY ROAD TAX and council tax shetland council do not care for anybody on the isles as we are sooth moothers

 

Good luck. I don't think that you've got a leg to stand on though (see other posts re: winter driving information and gritting etc.). I don't get the Sooth Moothers comment though, can you elaborate?

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Guest Anonymous

Forgot to mention.

Bad grammar pisses me off as well :evil:

 

And,

If you think being a Sooth Moother gives you added power... Dream on.

The SIC is totally non racial. They will screw everybody on an equal basis. :D

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This is a particularly interesting thread.

 

My partner and I were driving up to Brae on Christmas Day around about 18:00hrs. We had been forewarned that there wwas black ice up "nort" and after coming through the Lang Kames I saw blue lights up ahead. I immedietely slowed down to a crawl as that stretch of road is known to be a really bad spot for black ice.

 

No sooner had I touched the brakes and got to the bottom of the hill - the back end of the car began to give way. Now, I corrected myself quite easily having been in many a swinkly icey situation and carried on my way at about 20-30mph.

 

Some form of car had gone off the road between the Lang Kames and the Voe toilets - that was what the blue lights were about. Then as we approached the toilets I could see a further two vehicles had managed to presumably leave the road as they travelled around that tight corner (it's tight even on a scorching summer day!).

 

I had at that point wondered why no signs had been errected to point out there were accidents ahead and ice. Perhaps after the first crash there may have been no more - especially as after travelling South at night around 23:00hrs another car had gone off the road where we had first had our peerie swinkle.

 

Anyway .. my point being is that that area of road is reknowned for being a land-locked area and a bad spot for black-ice though this knowledge appears to be somewhat lost nowadays. Hard way to learn I'll admit.

 

I do wonder though why signage hadn't been erected after the first crash? The SIC can't take the full blame I don't think. Localised icing on what was otherwise a mild day - and absolutely bucketing it down come nighttime ... it was just one of those things, no?

 

I too am confused by the spattering of the term Sooth Moother throughout the posts!? :? You refer to not caring about people on the Isles - which I presume is a reference to Unst - yet the ice and crashes were on the mainland?! Please elaborate.

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