JEREMY Clarkson has hit out at average speed cameras on the A9, declaring: “You can take our licences but you cannot take our freedom!”
The controversial TV presenter made his remarks during the most recent episode of Amazon Prime series The Grand Tour.
The show’s giant tent was sited on the shores of Loch Ness at Fort Augustus and Clarkson started the rant by talking about the North Coast 500 route.
He told the audience that Police Scotland had promised to crackdown on speeding drivers on the route within hours of its creation.
Clarkson then moved on to the A9 cameras, which have been credited with cutting deaths and injuries on a road widely regarded as the most dangerous in the country.
The average speed system stretching along 30-miles of dual carriageway from Dunblane to Perth and then 80 miles from Perth to Inverness along single carriageway, has been installed since 2014.
Clarkson said: “Then we have got the A9 – 99 miles of continuous average speed cameras.”
Checking he was addressing “petrolheads”, Clarkson continued: “So let me ask you a question: Dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back and say to the Scottish Safety Camera Partnership [Programme] – You can take our licences but you cannot take our freedom?”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government-led A9 Safety Group, which oversees the camera system, said: “Mr Clarkson was hopefully just having a bit of fun on this occasion.
“In the two years of being operational, fatal casualties along the A9 corridor within the monitoring area have dropped almost 43 per cent and serious injury casualties by almost 63 per cent.
“These are statistics that should be welcomed by even the strongest opponent of average speed cameras.
“The latest report, last November, also highlighted significant reductions in the number of drivers detected speeding when compared to enforcement figures before the cameras were installed.
“This significantly-increased level of compliance supports the change in driver behaviour now evident on the route.”
Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, Neil Greig, said: “It’s only by having average speed cameras that many more petrolheads will live on to die in their beds.
“They may not be loved by everybody but they have effectively stopped all dangerously excessive speeding and made the road a much more relaxed place to be’.”
In an earlier episode, the Grand Tour team took advantage of Germany’s usually speed limit-free autobahns to push their cars in excess of 150mph.
Clarkson claimed that drivers are more at risk of having an accident when their attention is drawn away from the road to their speed dial and speed limit signs.