A9 blackspot costs two more lives

A MAN and a woman were killed yesterday in a horrific head-on collision on a notorious stretch of the A9 Perth to Inverness road.

They died on a section of single carriageway on the busy Highland road a mile and a half south of Dalwhinnie - and only a mile from the stretch of road where a husband and wife were killed in August when the motorbike they were riding was involved in a collision with a car.

Yesterday's crash between a Mitsubishi Shogun 4X4 and a Vauxhall Corsa happened at midday between Dalwhinnie and the Drumochter summit and caused traffic chaos on the main route to the Highlands.

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The road was closed for almost five hours to allow accident officers to complete their investigations at the scene of the fatal crash. Traffic had to be diverted through Spean Bridge and Fort William, causing major tailbacks in both directions and adding hours to journey times for many drivers.

The latest tragedy on the A9 led to fresh calls for the main road to be upgraded to a dual carriageway along its entire length.

In April the Scottish Government announced plans to spend 5.1 million to upgrade the A9 between Dalwhinnie and Newtonmore, extending the existing one-mile stretch of dual carriageway north of Crubenmore by more than a mile and a half, and increasing the distance available for drivers to overtake. Work on the Crubenmore upgrade began only last week.

But local councillor Dave Fallows said yesterday: "The sooner the whole of the road is dualled, the better. It would make the route much safer."

He added: "Work is under way at Crubenmore, which is nearby, and that has to be applauded. But there are too many accidents happening on the A9. This spot in particular is difficult at this time of the year with the low sun, leaving many motorists having to slow down."

The man and woman who died were travelling in the Vauxhall Corsa. A man and woman travelling in the Shogun were taken by ambulance to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness for treatment to non-life-threatening injuries.

The latest tragedy on the A9 brings the death toll on the road this year in both the Tayside and Northern Constabulary areas to 12.

Northern Constabulary has still to name the crash victims. A spokesman for the force said: "We can confirm that two people have died following a serious road traffic collision on the A9 a mile and a half south of Dalwhinnie.

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"The collision between two cars was reported to police at about 12:15pm."

He added: "We are appealing for information and members of the public who may have witnessed the collision are urged to contact police on 0845 600 5703. There are no further details at this time in relation to the age of the deceased.No details will be issued until all next of kin have been informed."

Sergeant Jim Pryde, one of the crash scene investigators, said: "It was dry at the time of the collision and it's a gradual bend in the area."

The A9 has 80 miles of single carriageway and 24 miles of dual carriageway. According to statistics, of the 171 accidents on the road between 1 January, 2006, and 31 December, 2008, 39 were on dual carriageway and 132 on single carriageway.