Police in the Highlands & Islands are to adopt a new initiative aimed at improving safety on the roads.

Operation CEDAR (Challenge, Educate, Detect and Reduce) will build on established practices and will focus on various agencies working in partnership to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured in the area.

In 2017, 17 people were killed on the roads in the Highlands and 74 seriously injured.  However, in 2018 to date, 18 people have died in road traffic collisions in the Highlands.

Operation CEDAR will involve proactive multi-agency enforcement operations on the roads, which will sit alongside education activity aimed at improving the behaviour of drivers of all ages behind the wheel.

Partner agencies will also work together to gain a greater understanding of the factors which could be used to improve the safety of everyone on the roads and together respond to these issues.

Although a new initiative in the Highlands & Islands, CEDAR has been used for the past three years by colleagues in the north east of Scotland. The new scheme will follow the same principles as this well-established campaign.

Partner agencies involved include local councils, BEAR Scotland, the North Safety Camera Partnership, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Chief Inspector Iain MacLelland has led the development of Operation CEDAR for Police Scotland Highlands & Islands Division.

He said: "We are very pleased to introduce Operation CEDAR in the Highlands & Islands. We believe the work carried out under the new operation will build on established good practice and allow all agencies to work to improve safety on the roads.

"Road safety is a key priority for Police Scotland and this had led by our communities who regularly highlight it as one of their main concerns.

"Road usage in the region is a complex picture, with local residents going about their daily business sharing the routes with visitors to the area.

"We want to make sure that everyone can use the roads safely and as a force we are committed to carrying out patrols using marked and unmarked vehicles across the region.

"Operation CEDAR will mean we can also work more closely with partners to consider the best ways to reinforce how to behave while behind the wheel.

"Excessive speed, distractions through the use of mobile phones or similar and driving while under the influence are all factors which can lead to tragic consequences on the roads.

"We all have a part to play in keeping our roads safe and we believe that Operation CEDAR as a collaborative approach between agencies and the public can contribute to preventing and reducing serious incidents."

Councillor Allan Henderson said: “As chair of the Highland Road Safety Group, Highland Council are pleased to be a partner in this new Police Scotland initiative.”

“Partnership working is the key to achieving our vision of zero road deaths on Highland roads.

“Highland Council will support partners in any way we can to ensure the strategic approach of the principles of road safety, namely, education, engineering, enforcement and encouragement are used to achieve a long term reduction in road casualties in our area.”

Eddie Ross, BEAR Scotland’s Operating Company Representative, said: “Trunk road safety is a top priority for BEAR Scotland and Transport Scotland, and we’re pleased to support Operation CEDAR in the Highlands.

“We work closely with partner agencies to find engineering solutions to help improve road safety for road users.

“Our Trunk Road Incident Support Service (TRISS) vehicle also plays a vital role in helping to ensure motorists receive the right support should an incident occur on the network, which in turn helps Police Scotland in their efforts to keep the trunk road network safe and moving.

“We’ll continue to do all we can to work towards improving road safety on the trunk road network.”

Derek Wilson is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's Group Manager for Prevention and Protection for the Highland area.

He said: “Protecting the public and communities from harm is at the heart of what we do – and any death on our roads is one too many.

“Unfortunately, firefighters frequently attend road traffic collisions and see all too clearly the devastation that can be caused.

“We thoroughly believe prevention is key and that is why we are throwing our full support behind Operation CEDAR.”

Milne Weir, Regional Director of the North of Scotland for the Scottish Ambulance Service, said:

“A serious road accident can have long-lasting and devastating consequences for those hurt and their families.

“Our ambulance crews do a great job in dealing with the aftermath of serious road accidents, however in an ideal world there would be fewer road accidents and injuries; we are happy to support an