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REVEALED: Inverness to Nairn ranked most dangerous A96 stretch over last five years

By Lewis McBlane

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The A96 runs through Nairn.
The A96 runs through Nairn.

Inverness to Nairn was the most dangerous part of the A96 over the last five years, according to figures released following an FOI request.

They have also revealed that the number of serious injuries and deaths on the 14.9-mile stretch this year could equal 2022's four-year record toll.

Released by Transport Scotland in response to our FOI request, the figures show how many serious injuries and deaths occurred each year on different sections of the A96.

Between Inverness and Aberdeen, since 2019, 11 people have lost their lives and 82 have been seriously injured.

By charting the numbers against the length of each section, we have worked out the rate of injuries and deaths along the A96 for each full year, and the average yearly rate over the five years from 2019 to August 2023.

The figures reveal that five were seriously injured on the A96 between the Raigmore Interchange and the Fisherton Roundabout in 2022 – the highest number on the relatively short section since before 2019.

And this year has already seen collisions cause three serious injuries which, if this year's trends continue, will see 2023 equal this figure.

Should the projection come true, the road will have been 46 per cent more dangerous than the five-year average between Inverness and Aberdeen for two years running.

Overall, the section had the A96's highest serious injury and death rate over the five-year span and was 10 per cent more dangerous than both the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen over the same time period.

Despite being excluded from the looming A96 Corridor Review, the slow rate of progress on dualling the road between Inverness and Nairn has been widely criticised.

Inverness to Nairn's single-year figure for 2022, and projection for 2023, are second only to the A96 between Wester Hardmuir and Fochabers, in 2019.

In that year alone, four were killed and nine seriously injured in collisions along the 26.5-mile stretch through Moray, according to the new figures.

That year's awful toll means the Forres and Elgin-spanning section was the most dangerous of all sections of the trunk road during all years, from 2019 to August 2023.

Plans to dual the Wester Hardmuir to Fochabers section by 2030 are currently in limbo – subject to the A96 Corridor Review.

In September, we revealed that the outcomes of the review, originally scheduled to be released in December 2022, would face further delays and would now be released "in the coming months".

First Minister Humza Yousaf, who promised to stick to bypass pledges while talking to the Northern Scot during a visit to Moray, revealed no details of the A96 dualling project's future within his Programme for Government speech.

Questioned on the A96 dualling yesterday (September 19) at a meeting of the Scottish Parliament's transport committee, transport minister Fiona Hyslop said the government's "priority" is "the Inverness to Nairn section".

Pushed on the timescales for the dualling of the A96 by North East Scotland MSP Douglas Lumsden, Ms Hyslop could not stick to the Scottish Government's 2030 pledge.

She said: “I think the sensible thing is to see what the review says in terms of the assessments of the options because clearly whatever options are then recommended, will have an impact in terms of the timescale for production of that, as will the capital availability for that.

“Currently the proposal is to dual the A96 with the priority being the Inverness to Nairn section.”

She added: “Clearly we want to meet timescales that have been committed to.

“We are talking about timescales from 2011 coming out of a period which is 12 years ago. I understand all governments need to be held accountable.

“This government has been in power for a considerable amount of time. We have had focus on a number of major transport areas. The review has taken place and you will receive that once the assessment has been done.”

Mr Lumsden, also the shadow cabinet secretary for transport, said: “It’s glaringly and shamefully obvious from the transport minister’s response at committee that there is no intention to dual the A96 between Aberdeen and Huntly or build a bypass at Inverurie and Keith.

“She openly admitted that the Inverness to Nairn section was more of a priority and during the SNP’s time in government, they’ve been more focussed on other projects which is a kick in the teeth to north east residents."

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