The Scottish Government works with a broad range of partners all year round to promote road safety. Over and above that, there is a host of specific initiatives during the festive period, including Police Scotland’s drink/drug drive campaign, which is now under way. Gritters will be available 24/7 to deal with ice and snow, and we have in place the necessary salt stocks—nearly 0.5 million tonnes, which equates to 140 per cent of the amount of salt that was used last winter. In addition, Transport Scotland’s multi-agency response team will be convened periodically to monitor conditions and keep the travelling public informed.
This time of year is particularly challenging for our emergency services. Does the First Minister agree that prevention is always better than cure? Whether it is continual messages about drink-driving or roads being mended timeously, the Scottish Government should never stand still and should consider fully how it can best work with all partner agencies to improve road safety throughout the country.
Yes. Stuart McMillan has made an important point. In 2013 we reduced the drink-drive limit in order to send the clear message that drinking and driving is unacceptable and is simply not worth the risk. We did that with the aim of changing behaviour and preventing drink-driving from ruining lives. Over the festive period, our excellent relationship with all the partners, including local government, will be key to delivering the road safety framework. I am sure that all members wish to pay tribute to all the people who work tirelessly to keep our roads and transport infrastructure operating and safe at this time of year.
On safety over the festive period, I make a plea for gritting of icy pavements. It would not cost an arm and a leg but— speaking of which—it would reduce unscheduled visits to accident and emergency departments.
We have seen an increase in orthopaedic trauma cases attending our accident and emergency services over the past week or so due to the icy conditions, so Christine Grahame raises an extremely important issue. The weather, particularly at this time of year, can make footpaths difficult, which is why there are measures in place. The salt stocks that I mentioned in my previous answer include the salt stocks that are held by local authorities and trunk road operating companies, and the stock that is held in strategic reserve. The Scottish Government, as the trunk roads authority, is responsible for taking steps to prevent snow and ice endangering the safe passage of pedestrians and vehicles on public roads. Scotland’s councils have comparable duties for local roads, which includes all footways, footpaths and cycle paths.