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After Scotland’s deadliest road claims another life, safety campaigners ask: How many more have to die on the A82?

By Ian Duncan

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Campaigners want the A82 to be upgraded in a bid to make in safer and in hope it will reduce the number of accidents.
Campaigners want the A82 to be upgraded in a bid to make in safer and in hope it will reduce the number of accidents.

Anger is mounting at the state of one of the region’s most dangerous roads after yet another tragic accident.

Politicians, safety campaigners and victims’ families are all demanding urgent action to improve the safety of the A82 – dubbed the “Forgotten Road” and officially Scotland’s deadliest highway.

Another name was added to the roll of death at 3.15pm on Monday when Melina Rosa Päprer (24), from Luneberg in Germany, died after the blue Citroen C3 in which she was a front-seat passenger collided with a grey Honda CRV travelling north near Borlum Farm, Drumnadrochit.

A 27-year-old man and a 56-year-old woman were also seriously injured and were taken to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, where they remain.

In July a Freedom of Information request revealed that between January 2017 and summer 2019, there were 785 serious or fatal accidents across Scotland and 73 of those took place on the A82 – four more than the second most dangerous road, the Falkirk to Thurso stretch of the A9.

In February an Inverness family – Gemma (26), Rhys (25), Peyton (3) and Heidi Cousin (1) – were killed in a collision on the A82 near Fort William.

Rhys’ mother Samantha Cousin (47), who now lives in Orkney, said: “My heart goes out to all families involved and to the young lady’s family.

“All unnecessary deaths on that road are personal. We relive that awful day every day and when another accident has happened, there are no words, just heartache.”

She is furious that nothing has been done to improve the road, adding: “After another woman has lost her life, I’m raging knowing how we still feel after our loss and not a thing being done. I feel guilty as if I haven’t done enough to fight for action.”

Mrs Cousin branded Highland roads “dangerous and a disgrace” and added: “In fact, in my mind, the lockdown was a perfect opportunity to make the changes needed on the roads. This could have been done in a socially-distanced way.

“Yes, it is going to cost money but for goodness sake, what cost is a person’s life worth? What cost is four lives?”

Inverness teacher Chloe Morrison (26), from Drumnadrochit, died following an accident while walking beside the A82 near her home village on October 25 last year and eight months earlier Samuel Foster (18), from Lochend, was killed in a crash at Dochgarroch on February 24.

Highland Council leader Margaret Davidson has asked to see the findings of any investigation into this week’s collision and has promised to keep pushing for improved safety measures to be made a top priority.

She said her thoughts were with those affected by this week’s incident, adding: “This was a particularly tragic accident and my sincere condolences go to all the families involved, most particularly the family of the young woman.”

Cllr Davidson, who lives just seven miles from the crash site, said the road was built decades ago and was not designed for modern traffic conditions. She said: “When you were building the roads, then the standards were different.”

She is also keen to discuss what can be done to improve road safety with organisations such as Police Scotland and Traffic Scotland.

Monday’s accident involved a southbound blue Citroen C3 and a grey Honda CRV travelling north and the road was closed until 9.30pm. Anyone with information is urged to contact Police Scotland on 101.

Regional Labour MSP David Stewart, who has a record for campaigning on road safety issues, backed calls for urgent work on the A82.

He said: “There are questions over whether road structure is correct, particularly on the A82. I have always felt we need major redevelopment of the A82 which is not fit for purpose for the level of traffic, particularly haulage traffic.

“Mrs Cousin is quite right to raise concerns and if members of the public see a problem, they should report it.”

Stewart MacLean, who runs the A82 Partnership campaign group, said it was important to remember the latest tragedy was not just another statistic, and involved the loss of a life. “At this point, the only thing you can think about is their family,” he said.

However, he said it highlighted the lack of investment in the A82 from Glasgow to Inverness over recent years, adding: “There is a requirement for an upgrade, we’ve been calling for improvements for the past 20 years.”

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