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Highland construction staff get road safety training

By Hazel Urquhart

MORE than 100 construction apprentices and staff are receiving crucial training to help keep them and others safe on Highland roads.

‘Safe Driving in the North’ is a health and safety focused-event in Inverness, organised by the Highland Construction Training Group (HCTG) and funded by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

Today and tomorrow 120 participants will receive talks and take part in a range of workshops and practical training courtesy of police, fire and ambulance services as well as Highland Council Road Safety and the Health and Safety Executive.

Raising awareness and providing practical training on how to deal with potentially hazardous conditions on major roads like the A9 attendees will also hear from nurse Rachael MacDonald, from Munlochy, who will share the story of her older brother, Andrew, who died in a road traffic accident in Carrbridge in 2012.

She said: "I know that travelling these same roads every day in the north involves risk.

"Many people have no option other than to do this just to get to and from work – but some don't realise just how dangerous a momentary lapse of concentration can be.

"Andrew's death had no clear cause at the time, we still don't know why his car went off the road.

"It's tough for me and my family to talk about what happened to Andrew but if his story, and this event, help to prevent just one accident – or even save another person's life – it's not all in vain."

HCTG chairman Ian Phillips said: "The whole point of Safe Driving in the North stems from the need for our construction operations to be on the go early in the morning and sometimes throughout the night.

"This means construction apprentices and workers – especially in the north where sites can be more remote – often have to travel by car during dark, freezing winters and on back roads.

"The road network around the Highlands – the A9 in particular – is well-known for being a particularly hazardous drive."

Ian Hughes, strategic partnerships director at CITB Scotland said: "Statistics show that Highland road incidents and accidents are on the increase and as an industry, we need to do everything we can to protect apprentices and construction workers both onsite and as they travel to work.”

Lisa MacKellaich, Highland Council’s road safety officer, said: "For over 10 years we have been delivering Driving Ambition, young driver road safety education, in Highland secondary schools aimed at fifth and sixth year pupils. We recognise that some young drivers who leave school at the end of fourth year to start as apprentices have missed out on the scheme and we are delighted to support the training of those young people."

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