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Highlands A9 road safety campaigner is driven in quest by pain of the bereaved

By Gavin Musgrove

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Laura Hansler, of the A9 Dual Action Group, being interviewed by Nicky Marr. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Laura Hansler, of the A9 Dual Action Group, being interviewed by Nicky Marr. Picture: Callum Mackay.

A Highlands A9 road safety campaigner has revealed that speaking to the families of accident victims has spurred her on in her quest.

Laura Hansler, of the A9 Dual Action Group, has been praised for her major contribution by others attending The Inverness Courier A9 Crisis Summit at Eden Court.

She said: "I have had enough of the fatalities. I hear the sirens first-hand from my house [in Kincraig]. I can hear them going off constantly especially during the summertime.

"Having spoken to some of the families of the deceased, it is very traumatic how a perfectly innocent day or evening can unfold into tragedy.

"They need a voice. These people do not have clear answers. No-one is taking the blame for this.

"The victims were going about their daily business when they were killed on the road and no-one is actually taking responsibility for this."

She added: "To hear these family accounts first-hand is something that you cannot really prepare yourself for."

Ms Hansler was one of the key speakers at the summit and was interviewed on stage by host Nicky Marr.

She described to the audience the sense of dread and how events unfold living within earshot of the A9 road when there is an accident.

"There is a sequence of events when you hear the sirens," she said. "Sometimes they cut through the village to cut back onto the A9 and then you will hear the different sirens. You might hear the air ambulance come over so you then think it is going to be bad.

"You know within a few minutes that the road is closed because it is on social media. You know by the lengths of hours what is happening and you are wondering who is it.

"Is my partner home? Is my son home? You are thinking X, Y and Z were going up that road today – are they safely back home?

"It has got close to our communities recently. There have been people who have died now – it is not always tourists.

"They are people from our small rural communities and Inverness being killed on this road whilst going about their daily basis."

She urged the Scottish Government to honour their numerous pledges on delivering a dualled A9 but harbours doubt whether it will now actually happen in its entirety.

And she claimed: "The Highlands is not being prioritised the same as Central Scotland and I think there is an issue of a populous vote. Money has gone elsewhere.

"I think there has to be an inquiry into where that money has gone and why it was not ring-fenced for the A9 communities."

Towards the end of the debate, Ms Hansler and others on the platform were given the chance to have a final say on the A9.

She said: "If I had a magic wand, I want a timetable. These communities need a timetable. We need to know what is happening. The electorate has a right to know.

"We are voting these people into power, they are making promises and cast-iron guarantees so where are they, where are they?"

Not for the first time that afternoon there was applause for Ms Hansler.

And host Nicky Marr told her: "I can feel your passion, I can see the emotion and how much this matters to you."

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