MOTORISTS are more than twice as likely to be in an accident on the A82 than the A9, new figures have revealed.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request shows the number of collisions on the western route to the central belt is more than double that of the speed camera-riddled A9.
There have also been six more deaths on the A82, which connects Inverness to Glasgow via Loch Lomond, than the Perth-bound A9.
Campaigners for improvements on the A82 say lack of investment on the winding trunk road is causing accidents, while others have blamed increased traffic, saying frustrated drivers are using the A82 to avoid the average speed cameras on the A9.
In the last three years there have been 186 accidents on the A82, between Dumbarton and Inverness, compared to 75 on the A9 between Perth and the Highland capital.
Sixteen people died on the western route in the same period, six more than on the A9.
Stewart MacLean, of road improvement campaign group the A82 Partnership, said more investment is needed to reduce accidents.
“I am not at all surprised at these figures,” he said.
“They directly reflect what we have been saying all along about the condition of the A82 compared to the A9.
“There has been billions of pounds more investment on the A9 than the A82 in recent years and that is clearly reflected in the number of accidents.”
Transport Scotland is investing around £3 billion in dualling the A9 and has spent £50 million on safety and structural improvements since 2007.
On the A82 around £2 billion less has been spent with £14.7 million invested in Crianlarich bypass and Pulpit Rock improvements, as well as around £90 million on maintenance and improvements.
Mike Burns, of campaign group A9 Average Speed Cameras Are Not The Answer, has avoided travelling south on the A9 since the average speed cameras were installed in 2014.
He now uses the A82 for his regular trips to the central belt and thinks others are doing the same, leading to more accidents.
“People, including myself, are choosing the A82 to avoid the frustrations of the A9 when travelling to the central belt,” he said. “I travel to the central belt two or three times a month and haven’t used the A9 in years.
“Personally, I have felt the A82 has become a lot busier since the A9 cameras were installed.
“This is putting a lot more pressure on the A82 which is resulting in more accidents. This can be clearly seen by the statistics.
“Transport Scotland don’t care though, as long as it makes the A9 look safer. They are playing with the lives of people in the Highlands.”
But Mr MacLean disagrees and does not think most people would choose to drive on the dangerous A82 unless they had to.
“The people I know who use the A9 are happy with the cameras because the traffic flow is steady and it feels safer without the racer element,” he said.
“The people I have spoken to are happier with the A9 and would only ever choose the A82 if they wanted the scenic route.”
From January to August of this year there have already been five deaths on the A82, including a 73-year-old male motorcyclist who died in a three-vehicle crash at Lewiston, near Drumnadrochit, and a cyclist who collided with a lorry in Lochaber in August.
HGV drivers who regularly use both routes do not feel unsafe on the A82, according to Martin Reid, director for Scotland at the Road Haulage Association.
He has had no indication that drivers are choosing the A82 over the A9.
“Most drivers doing a loop of the country will go up the east coast and down the west so they will be using the A82 to travel southbound,” he said.
“It is clear the A82 has had a different level of investment and there must be a reason there are more accidents but it could be due to many different things.
“Most of the feedback to me is the cameras and the different speed limit for cars and trucks has been beneficial.”
A Transport Scotland spokeswoman pointed out investments have been made on the A82 and said the two roads have “different characteristics”.
“Safety is an absolute priority for the Scottish Government and any claims that investment on the A9 comes at the detriment of any other route are quite simply wrong,” she said.
“Nor is it meaningful to compare the A82 and A9 which are different in length and have different characteristics.
“Any road death is one too many and, while improvements have been made, we can and will do more to work towards our aspiration of zero fatalities on Scotland’s roads.
“We encourage all road users to play their part in reducing accidents as we make progress, particularly the small minority who continue to take risks.”