A9 crash vic­tim calls for safety over­haul

In­jured ski in­struc­tor wants di­ver­sions re­viewed to pre­vent grid­lock in vil­lages

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - EMMA CRICH­TON

The sur­vivor of a head-on col­li­sion at an A9 ac­ci­dent blackspot has called for a road safety shake-up.

Ron­nie Weir still strug­gles to walk af­ter in­jur­ing his leg in the crash which hap­pened at Kin­dal­lachan last April when the driver of an­other car took ill at the wheel and died.

Now, the pen­sioner, who had to give up his ca­reer as a pro­fes­sional ski in­struc­tor, is call­ing for im­proved safety on the trunk road and the sur­round­ing back roads, where traf­fic is di­verted dur­ing ac­ci­dents.

Nar­row roads through High­land Perthshire vil­lages reg­u­larly be­come grid­locked when the A9 is closed, lead­ing to more ac­ci­dents.

Ron­nie said the emer­gency re­sponse plans for se­ri­ous crashes must be re­viewed.

A one-way sys­tem was sug­gested fol­low­ing his ac­ci­dent 18 months ago but this has never been im­ple­mented, de­spite nu­mer­ous crashes on the same stretch.

A pen­sioner left par­tially dis­abled in a head-on col­li­sion has called for bet­ter safety mea­sures and emer­gency traf­fic plans when ac­ci­dents close the A9.

Ron­nie Weir, 71, suf­fered se­ri­ous leg in­juries in the crash last April. The fe­male driver of the other car died at the wheel.

The ac­ci­dent, which smashed his kneecap, hap­pened at Kin­dal­lach just one mile from his Dowally home and left the A9 blocked for seven hours.

Ron­nie had to give up his ca­reer as a ski in­struc­tor and still strug­gles to walk.

He is now call­ing for a shakeup of di­ver­sion routes, of­ten nar­row roads which be­come grid­locked and dan­ger­ous when the A9 is closed.

Ron­nie said: “I was told I was lucky to be alive but there are so many ac­ci­dents on that stretch and not every­one is so lucky.

“Once it is dual car­riage­way the head-on col­li­sions will stop so I’m all for that. The prob­lem we have in the mean­time is that traf­fic is di­verted on to all of these com­pletely un­suit­able roads.

“There are HGVs and car­a­vans, then they end up crash­ing into each other and the traf­fic is backed up so much that no­body can turn round.”

Queues stretch­ing for miles were com­mon­place this sum­mer as the A9 was reg­u­larly blocked by ac­ci­dents north of Perth.

A woman rid­ing pil­lion on a mo­tor­cy­cle died af­ter a col­li­sion with a bus at the Kin­dal­lachan turn-off in Septem­ber.

Three other peo­ple have died on the A9 since May. The trunk road con­nect­ing Perth to the High­lands was closed for sev­eral hours each time, caus­ing chaos on sur­round­ing roads such as the A924 be­tween Pit­lochry and Blair­gowrie.

Ron­nie said a one-way sys­tem was agreed fol­low­ing his crash 18 months ago, so sep­a­rate di­ver­sions would be used for north and south­bound traf­fic, but this has never been im­ple­mented.

“I was told at the time this had all been agreed and would be in place for the next time there was a crash and it has never hap­pened, even though there have been plenty of crashes,” he said.

“It would stop the roads be­ing grid­locked for hours and ev­ery­thing be­ing brought to a stand­still.

“The last time there was a bad ac­ci­dent on the A9 the po­lice tried to send me into a di­ver­sion which was al­ready backed up for miles. The crash was more than a mile away from my house, which I was try­ing to get back to, yet they tried to send me into a queue it would take hours to get out of.

“It doesn’t make sense.” Di­ver­sion routes are agreed by Scot­tish road au­thor­i­ties, Po­lice Scot­land and Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil.

None of them were able to con­firm if there were plans to change the ar­range­ments.

A po­lice spokes­woman said: “There are agreed di­ver­sion routes set by Trans­port Scot­land and the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in con­sul­ta­tion with Po­lice Scot­land.

“We do ap­pre­ci­ate that mo­torists may have to wait some time whilst we are deal­ing with se­ri­ous road traf­fic in­ci­dents but we do en­deav­our to com­plete this work as quickly as pos­si­ble.

“It is im­por­tant that af­ter se­ri­ous or fa­tal col­li­sions that a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­pleted to es­tab­lish the cir­cum­stances and pro­vide an­swers for those af­fected and we must not lose sight of why these in­ves­ti­ga­tions need to hap­pen.”

Bear Scot­land said: “We have had pre­vi­ous dis­cus­sions about in­tro­duc­ing ad­di­tional stan­dard in­ci­dent di­ver­sion routes on the A9 cor­ri­dor, specif­i­cally re­lated to the Kin­dal­lachan area.

“Whilst it would be use­ful to have fur­ther op­tions in terms of di­ver­sion routes, we are mind­ful that there are some ex­ist­ing con­cerns from the com­mu­nity that we need to dis­cuss with Po­lice Scot­land and the coun­cils re­gard­ing the ex­ist­ing stan­dard in­ci­dent di­ver­sion routes.

“Bear Scot­land is plan­ning to meet with Po­lice Scot­land and the coun­cils to dis­cuss these mat­ters in the com­ing months.”

No­body from the coun­cil was avail­able for com­ment.

The po­lice tried to send me into a di­ver­sion which was al­ready backed up for miles “

Pic­tures: Kris Miller and Stuart Cow­per.

Ron­nie Weir, top, was in­volved in an ac­ci­dent on the A9, above, which left him par­tially dis­abled. Now he is call­ing for bet­ter di­ver­sion routes in the case of ac­ci­dents on the road.

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