The First minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has been accused of placing unfair blame on haulage companies for the carnage caused by the beast from the east that resulted in thousands of motorists being stranded on the motorway for over 18 hours.
The first minister openly criticised haulage companies after several HGVs jack-knifed due to the conditions which inadvertently blocked the M80 motorway during a red weather warning on Wednesday, an estimated 50 plus cars were left abandoned on the motorway whilst other motorists waited for over 18 hours for the motorway to re-open.
The RHA has hit back at Ms Sturgeon by saying: "Hauliers are battling hard between a rock and a hard place: atrocious weather conditions and unfair blame from the First Minister on one hand and pressure from suppliers to get crucial food and other supplies through to them so customers can get the things they need in this weather."
When asked during ministers questions on Thursday what more could’ve been done, the first minister bluntly responded: "I, as members would expect, paid close attention to the live cameras on the M80 over the course of yesterday afternoon and yesterday evening.
"If I can be absolutely frank there was far more HGVs on that road than there should have been when a red warning was in place.
"I do think we have to be very clear in the message we are sending to companies who deliver goods in HGVs, and this is not a criticism of drivers because driver-safety is one of the important issues here, during a red weather warning a HGV should not be on one of our trunks roads unless it is absolutely unavoidable. I saw some branded HGVs in pictures yesterday and given the branding on them I would struggle to say their transport was unavoidable."
Ms Sturgeon’s views that hauliers should not be on Scottish trunk roads unless it is unavoidable is "naïve in the extreme". "Heavy goods vehicles provide a vital service and despite the appalling weather conditions that Scotland is experiencing right now, deliveries have to be made whether they be supplies to hospitals, food for livestock or heating oil.
"The very nature of the logistics industry means that many of the HGVs on the road will be half way through a 3-4 day journey and have no alternative but to press on until they reach their delivery destination. This issue clearly highlights the shocking lack of facilities on the trunk road system where drivers can rest safely.
"The severity of the weather that is now hitting all parts of the UK is of a level that has not been seen for many years and there will be several generations of young drivers who have never driven in such extreme conditions.
"The RHA strongly urges all road users, regardless of their mode of transport, to exercise extreme care at all times and be aware of other drivers."
Another example of the government not understanding the importance of the road haulage industry, if hauliers are not on the road then nothing would get delivered and the country would come to a standstill.