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Shetland roads in Winter


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@Stuajan

 

I’m not exactly sure where the SIC’s responsibilities begin and end as regards providing a perfect road surface 24hrs a day, 365 days a year, but as has been previously stated they certainly made a point of trying to let us know that there would not be a full service on Christmas Day. There were notices in the Shetland Times and their website and information was given out on both Radio Shetland and SIBC warning that the last gritting would be carried out on Christmas Eve with no further treatment till 7:30am on Boxing Day. I don’t know enough about the legalities involved to say for sure but it seems, on the face of it, that they’ve made the situation fairly clear.

 

This isn’t a new thing either – I can’t remember overnight gritting or Christmas/New Year’s Day gritting taking place in the past. If you have to travel at these times as many people have to, including me, then you know that you need to take extra care. Having said that, the road on Christmas Day from Voe down to the Scar Quilse was absolutely treacherous and I’m not surprised that so many vehicles went off. I had a fair tirl there myself in the morning and things had got worse by teatime. The road seemed fine everywhere else, including other places you’d normally expect ice, and I was left relieved but kicking myself for being caught out. I did try phoning round people I thought would be travelling this stretch of road to warn them but I didn’t inform the Police so, if you want, you can hold me responsible as well for your misfortune.

 

The thing is, if I had gone off the road, it would still be myself I was blaming not the Council. There seems to be a belief that we should all be able to carry on our lives in complete safety and that “they†should make sure that nothing can happen to us. “The Council†or “the Government†or whatever seem to be the first to be blamed whenever the finger is to be pointed instead of taking responsibility for ourselves.

 

Please don’t think that I’m saying you were at fault here, that’s not what I mean, just that trying to somehow get back at the SIC for what was, after all, an accident hardly seems like the right course of action. We’ve probably all become too accustomed to the standard of work and long hours the gritting crews do and the generally good conditions of our roads during the winter months

 

I do agree that if the gritters were not available to come out then more could have been done e.g. set up warning signs in the area. I saw that this did happen eventually but not till early evening and there had been a further two crashes. Since you were the first to go off the road then none of this would probably have helped in your case anyway.

I wasn’t in the area during the daylight hours so things may have been OK then but the road was certainly an awful lot worse in the early evening as it had been in the morning. A gritter did arrive by about 8pm but the 4th and 5th crashes had happened as well by then.

 

I really hope that you, your family and everyone else involved in these recent accidents are OK. Forget about the car, it’s just so much metal and plastic - and be thankful for what you have and that we’re not dealing with a real tragedy here.

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Guest Anonymous

( *** MOD EDIT *** - removed pooks previous laarge quote and left in posters contribution below)

 

I THINK YOU LOT ARE LIVING IN THE DARK AGES AS I WANTED IT ON A FORM SO I COULD COME AND SEE IF SHELTIES ARE THE UNDERSTANDING AS THEY ARE MADE OUT TO BE

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I THINK YOU LOT ARE LIVING IN THE DARK AGES AS I WANTED IT ON A FORM SO I COULD COME AND SEE IF SHELTIES ARE THE UNDERSTANDING AS THEY ARE MADE OUT TO BE

Stuajan, you appear to be quite bitter with what has transpired. Quite understandable, yes. Your vehicle left the road whilst containing your family and you on a day that should have otherwise been a pleasant and joyous occasion.

 

Several posters have contributed to the "ins-and-outs" of the situation. You subsequently make a wide sweeping brusque generalisation ....

 

An old adage springs to mind containing the words "rod" and "back".

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I can't comment for the other people that have posted replies but I am certainly living in the present. I don't know a lot about law but what I do know tells me that it would be a waste of time trying to hold the council responsible for what has happened.

 

If you had gone to a shop on Christmas Day for a pint of milk and found it closed would you then sue the shop?

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( *** MOD EDIT *** - removed pooks previous laarge quote and left in posters contribution below)

 

I THINK YOU LOT ARE LIVING IN THE DARK AGES AS I WANTED IT ON A FORM SO I COULD COME AND SEE IF SHELTIES ARE THE UNDERSTANDING AS THEY ARE MADE OUT TO BE

 

Calm down pal. No-one is pointing any fingers at you and no-one has expressed anything that could be construed as a lack of understanding - unless of course all you want is blind acceptance of your supposition that SIC is to blame. Why not take it the whole way and sue Landrover for failing to take into account that their vehicles might be used on slippery roads? Perhaps it is Goodyear's fault?

 

The Southerners living in this dispersed community are accepted, befriended, and largely understood (I blame my accent for the odd confusion). This is generally brought about by people being reasonable. Now let this be said, I am very glad that no-one was seriously hurt, but ranting in this forum is not going to be much of a convincer. As to living in the Dark Ages, both the Islands and South have their specific issues of backwardness and barbarism, but this is not one of them.

 

I'm sorry your family's Christmas was ruined by this accident and I wish you and yours a happier new year.

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Guest Anonymous
I THINK YOU LOT ARE LIVING IN THE DARK AGES AS I WANTED IT ON A FORM SO I COULD COME AND SEE IF SHELTIES ARE THE UNDERSTANDING AS THEY ARE MADE OUT TO BE

Stuajan, you appear to be quite bitter with what has transpired. Quite understandable, yes. Your vehicle left the road whilst containing your family and you on a day that should have otherwise been a pleasant and joyous occasion.

 

Several posters have contributed to the "ins-and-outs" of the situation. You subsequently make a wide sweeping brusque generalisation ....

 

An old adage springs to mind containing the words "rod" and "back".

i am stuajan the partner of howie he is using my name for this discussion about the roads firstly i am not bitter about what has happened more thankful that we are all alive but i do feel very strongly that a few hours work from the shetland council could have prevented the trauma and affects that my children and i are suffering and i am sure that the other drivers that went off the road are experiencing the same affects, cars are nothing but lives are and how can shetland island council justify 6 cars losing control by ice this could possibly have been prevented luck and the wee man upstairs kept all victims alive can shetland island council put their hands on their hearts and say that they helped keep these victims alive that i don't think but hopefully they will read this and like doctors nurses police etc they will have their workers working throughout the festive season next year to prevent the worse scenario LOSS OF LIFE
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While I respect your right to complain about services, reasonable or otherwise, and I'm glad you're all okay after the accident, I'm having a little trouble with this two people using the same account in this discussion. Stuajan (for want of a better designator I'll add -H for Howie) quite forcefully and aggressively states one position, and Stuajan-A (Alternate Stuajan) softens that position significantly, but uses the same punctuationless grammatic style.

 

Sorry but I'm not convinced you're two people. More likely the same person backpedalling somewhat after being quite rude to the posters in this forum. If I'm wrong please accept my apologies, but I hope you can understand my viewpoint.

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can shetland island council put their hands on their hearts and say that they helped keep these victims alive

 

You see, that's the thing. We all know that the Council did not do everything they could to make the road as safe as possible but what they did do was tell everybody that there would be no gritting service on the day in question and we can't make "them" out to be some kind of uncaring monsters for doing exactly what they said they were going to do.

 

I'm all for having the roads gritted at all times so that is maybe where effort should be concentrated, as has been suggested previously although I'm pretty sure that it would amount to more than the "few hours work" that you speak about - anybody with any knowledge on the subject care to guess how many grittters/crews/manhours we are speaking about here?

 

You could speak to your Councillor and the Roads Dept and maybe a few other folk will try the same too. We seem to be heading more and more towards a 24hr society and maybe it's time to look at what we can expect during these "anti-social" hours. Perhaps enough of the gritter men are quite happy to work on these days and it's simply a matter of budgets that prevents it happening. Seeing as the SIC is trying to save money on many fronts at the moment I wouldn't hold your breath, however.

 

On the other hand, maybe the gritty men just want spend the day with their own families which I'm sure we can all understand.

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I've done a little Internet digging whilst I wait for the washing machine to finish... yep, exciting Saturday for me :roll:

 

Sergeant MacBeath said: “Motorists should be aware that road conditions can vary considerably within a relatively short distance and in a short period of time.

“They should be constantly watchful for any signs whatsoever that conditions may change or are actually changing, both on the road surface and in the area through which they are passing.

 

“Motorists should also bear in mind the information published in local media by Shetland Islands Council in regard to winter road maintenance and in particular regarding times of service.

 

“They should plan their journeys with such in mind and leave ample time to complete them.”

34. Clearance of snow and ice

 

A roads authority shall take such steps as they consider reasonable to prevent snow and ice endangering the safe passage of pedestrians and vehicles over public roads.

The SIC's publically viewable documentation relating to their duties as local roads authority:

SIC Winter Service Policy

Holiday Arrangements for Treatment of Ice and Snow

SIC Winter Driving Advice

 

The actual Road Traffic Act 1998 itself, as far as I can see, serves to reinforce the duty on the motorist to act with due care. Though it does also place duties on the highway authority on road safety:

“(a) must carry out studies into accidents arising out of the use of vehicles on roads or parts of roads, other than trunk roads, within their area,

(B) must, in the light of those studies, take such measures as appear to the authority to be appropriate to prevent such accidents.”

^^ Note there though that that is on roads "other" than trunk roads! So ...the question is whether an individual can successfully claim snow and ice had or had not been removed pursuant to the relevant statute - Section 34 of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 - Part IV to establish a claim against a highway authority?

 

There appears to be a swaith of precedence set stating local authorities aren't liable as the long standing tradition is that drivers are responsible for their own safety and as Skyumpi points out - they make publically known their intentions.

 

Perhaps if anything can come of this - that area could be marked as being liable to black ice with one of those signs with an exclamation mark "Other Danger sign" and a marking below it?!

 

I'll also make note that I ain't no solicitor ...

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Guest Anonymous
While I respect your right to complain about services, reasonable or otherwise, and I'm glad you're all okay after the accident, I'm having a little trouble with this two people using the same account in this discussion. Stuajan (for want of a better designator I'll add -H for Howie) quite forcefully and aggressively states one position, and Stuajan-A (Alternate Stuajan) softens that position significantly, but uses the same punctuationless grammatic style.

 

Sorry but I'm not convinced you're two people. More likely the same person backpedalling somewhat after being quite rude to the posters in this forum. If I'm wrong please accept my apologies, but I hope you can understand my viewpoint.

I do accept your apology unfortunately H uses this forum and stuajan doesn't but the reason is H for some reason could not get a registration so he used me for it and as for the grammar now that i am a 40 yr old female with 4 children i don't have time to sit on a computer let alone feel i am failing on my proper english but i will bear in mind that some people do
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i am a 40 yr old female with 4 children i don't have time to sit on a computer let alone feel i am failing on my proper english but i will bear in mind that some people do

I fail to see what effect either age, gender or number of children produced would have on one’s familiarity or otherwise with the basic concept of full stops and capital letters. Nor do I appreciate what difference sitting on (ouch!) a computer would have on such a deficit. But hey – I’m one of these dreadfully old-fashioned people who also thinks that grown-ups should take responsibility for their own actions or face up to the consequences.

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As people have posted, probably most of the duties placed on the council would be to act "in a reasonable way" rather than any fixed requirements.

 

If the road conditions predicted during the day were correctly interpretated and did not warrant salting, then there is likely no fault on the council for not salting again. If there was some error there, or predictions were ignored, then there may be a case.

The lack of a gritting service on Christmas day would not seem to come into things for me in this case, unless this was a factor in not salting when the predictions did warrant it.

 

The wider picture as to whether a regular gritter service should be kept in place for the 25th and 1st is maybe a better one to debate. An emergency service is still available, and I understand that this was called out and the road was salted after the first accident, although it would seem that the weather conditions and/or low traffic meant that it didn't thaw the ice enough to prevent the latter accidents.

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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.

 

Road Tax used to be called 'Road Fund Tax' and was initially collected for the purpose of road construction and maintenance. That ended many years ago and it is now called 'Vehicle Excise Duty', is based on emissions and the cash collected goes into the general pot. If all the sums so gathered were actually used for the original purpose we would have roads supremely better than we have today.

In my opinion, having driven to Cornwall and back this last summer, Shetland has better maintained road surfaces than anywhere else, possibly because SIC spends more on our roads than is allocated to them by central government.

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Guest Anonymous

My sympathy for stuajan deminishes with every post that he/she leaves.

 

However I do feel that the roads should be gritted on Xmas day and New Years day. When I read in the Shetland Times that this was not to be done I worrried that there would be accidents. I wasnt wrong.

 

On these two days many people are travelling on the roads to visit friends and family. Surely their welfare is important. No matter how careful the driver is, if there is ice on the road, an acccident is very difficult to avoid.

If a life were lost at this time of year, Xmas would be ruined for many years to come for the family and friends left behind.

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