The A9 has her dark side and after years of abuse, she is biting back, screaming for some overdue attention, that cannot wait another 12 years.
Every death is one too many. The real causes need to be analysed because to introduce average speed cameras shows just how out of touch with reality the government, Police Scotland and Transport Scotland actually are with the A9.
The powers that be are missing the fundamental point – what is causing the accidents?
Spare a thought for the Highlanders, watching as billions are ploughed into Central Belt transport – M74 extension, Edinburgh trams, Forth Replacement Crossing, Glasgow Commonwealth Games and new railways, whilst on an alarmingly regular basis, local airwaves in the Highlands grimly tell us of the latest death on our main critical artery to the south.
Since when did anyone die because of the Edinburgh trams not being built?
Comparisons with the A77 are flawed. The A9 SPECS [average speed cameras] proposal covers a length five times greater than the A77, which in itself never had the sheer number of significant design flaws of the A9.
The A77 SPECS system, was installed on one-third of the A77 route, on the only non-dual section and was only switched on after significant dualling had been accelerated to completion in 2005.
Riddled with risk
The A9 is riddled with risky overtaking caused by sheer frustration of crawling queues, dual carriageways blocked by slow-moving vehicles, and speed camera vans situated on safe overtaking straights.
Then we have no rest stops and no truck stops. The decades-old rules that stopped proper services being built on the A9 to preserve villages need to be overturned, fast.
Fixed and mobile cameras have their place in a mix of good road safety along with highly visible police patrols with proper enforcement.
This issue will become the SNP’s Highland vote looser and with a newly-created campaign attracting more than 1,000 views an hour on Facebook alone, the message is loud and clear. SPECS is not the answer, even as an interim solution, it’s the final Highland insult.
• Mike Burns is from campaign group The Real A9 Problem and is an IT customer service manager with more than 1,000 documented A9 journeys since 2005