Stay Alive on the A85: Twenty near misses in just four hours

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This week more than 20 near misses on the road have been reported by a member of the public to The Oban Times.

Barry MacNeil, 58, set out to record what was happening on the road after witnessing a death on the A85 more than three years ago. Mr MacNeil wanted to support the campaign for improvements and measures to improve safety on the road. He took to a quiet spot on the hillside by the road with a pen and paper to record what he saw happening.

From a lookout point near Pennyfuir, he said he watched near misses and potential problems on the road over a four-hour period, with 16 of them to do with cars driving too fast or overtaking at Pennyfuir.

He saw two people struggle to cross the road to visit the graveyard.

One person using walking sticks was nearly knocked over as they used the pathway as cars were driving so quickly.

One cyclist was almost knocked off their bike before two cars collided.

Mr MacLean said he saw ‘numerous’ people using mobile phones while driving.

He said: ‘I am shocked by the behaviour of drivers. And after seeing someone killed in an accident three years ago I thought I was fairly unshockable.

‘I have no idea who any of the drivers were. I would like to believe they were tourists, but I would have to confess that I saw one car overtake three times on the same stretch of road so I assume the driver was a local.

‘Points that need to be investigated for improvement are on the sharp turn about 20 metres east of the gates of Pennyfuir.

‘The verges on the side of the road don’t appear to be strong enough to take any weight at all, and there should be  no overtaking.

‘That, of course, gives us a dilemma about people cycling. There is no way that cyclists are always safe on the road. I saw two cars almost collide because one car was desperate to get out of the way of the cyclist.’

Oban Times chief reporter Louise Glen, who has been working on the campaign, said: ‘The response from our readers has been overwhelming, with hundreds of people signing the online and paper versions of petition.

‘Many people have been cutting the petition out of the paper and handing it onto friends and families to sign and return.

‘We would be keen to hear from more people who have stories to tell about the road.

‘We would also like it if more people like Mr MacNeil send observations to the newspaper about driver behaviour on the road.

‘By the end of June we hope to take the petition to the government minister with responsibility for roads.

‘In the meantime, we need people to get others to sign the petition – online and in the paper to show the strength of support for improvements on the road.’

At present near misses are not reported to statutory organisations such as Police Scotland due to its recording procedures – but poor driving can always be reported on 101 to the police.

The closing date for returning petitions or giving support online will be June 26.

In the meantime – tell us your stories, of the A85 to editor@obantimes.co.uk or phone 01631 568000 option two.

Next week – hear one victim’s story.