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‘Horrific’ figures show 11 people have died and almost 70 seriously injured on A96 amid calls for road to be fully dualled

By Lewis McBlane

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NEW figures show that 11 people have died and 69 have been seriously injured on the A96 in the last four years.

The busy A96 in Elgin...Picture: Beth Taylor.
The busy A96 in Elgin...Picture: Beth Taylor.

Opposition politicians repeated calls for the SNP Government to stick to its pledge to dual the road in full, in the wake of the figures, and pushed them to publish the long-delayed A96 Review outcome.

More serious crashes have happened on the A96 this year than in any year since 2019 – despite figures only including up to November 1.

We found that the A96 section spanning Forres and Elgin had, in 2019, the trunk road's highest per-mile yearly toll of deaths and serious injuries across all sections in the last five years.

However, though the 2023 number of 18 serious crashes was 50 per cent higher than last year, this year was the first since 2019 without a fatal accident on the A96.

Scottish Conservative North East MSP Douglas Lumsden said the “horrific” statistics provide further evidence that the route should be dualled in its entirety and not just from Nairn to Inverness.

He also accused the SNP of "turning a blind eye to the horrendous collisions which are unfolding on a weekly basis".

However, Moray MSP Richard Lochhead (SNP) said the Scottish Government "remains committed to the dualling of the A96", adding that the SNP's election got "dualling on the agenda", which "years of Tory governments" had failed to do.

The A96 saw 12 serious crashes last year, 13 in 2021, nine in 2020 and 16 in 2019.

Mr Lumsden also pushed the Scottish Government on why the final outcome of the A96 Corridor Review, which has cost an additional £5 million, still hasn’t been published a year after its initial December 2022 deadline.

In September, we broke the news of the most-recent delay to the review, which could lead to the Scottish Government's 2011 dualling pledge being scrapped.

As part of the review, a Scottish Government questionnaire found 88 per cent of respondents were very dissatisfied or dissatisfied with the availability of safe overtaking opportunities, 79 per cent were not happy with the levels of traffic congestion and 76 per cent were not satisfied with the length of journey times.

Plans to fully dual the A96 were announced in December 2011, when the Scottish Government published its Infrastructure Investment Plan (IIP) containing the commitment to upgrade the A96 between Aberdeen and Inverness by 2030.

And government correspondence from September obtained by the Scottish Conservatives shows bosses warning that “extremely constrained budgets” mean “difficult choices may have to be made”.

Moray Councillor Jérémie Fernandes (Elgin North, SNP) submitted a motion passed at the SNP's 2023 conference in Aberdeen, urging the Scottish Government to dual the A96 and A9.

Mr Lumsden said: “These horrific figures should act as a wake-up call to the SNP Government and prompt them into finally fulfilling the promises they made over a decade ago to dual the road in its entirety.

“One collision is one too many and each crash causes upset and pain to the families whose loved ones are involved in these incidents.

“The SNP are happy to make statements on the A9 but remain silent on the A96 despite concerns from communities across the North East.

“The A96 has been neglected by the SNP for years, risking the safety of motorists, hampering our emergency services and putting off potential investors in our economy.

“Not only have the dualling plans ground to a halt, but the actual review of the project has also been delayed by a year now, which highlights the Scottish Government’s ignorant approach to one of the country’s most dangerous roads.

“Rather than turning a blind eye to the horrendous collisions which are unfolding on a weekly basis, the SNP Government needs to stop pandering to its Green partners and fully dual the road as soon as possible.”

SNP MSP Richard Lochhead said: “The SNP-led Scottish Government remains committed to the dualling of the A96 and improvements and this is because of both the safety case and economic benefits.

"Road traffic accidents are horrendous for those involved and and affected so we must always strive to make this key and busy route safer.

“It took the election of an SNP Government to get dualling on the agenda after years of Tory governments so maybe their local representatives could acknowledge that.”

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