Police call for A9 upgrade after fatal crash

Abigail Houston and daughter Mia. Both died after a car crash on the A9. Picture: Submitted
Abigail Houston and daughter Mia. Both died after a car crash on the A9. Picture: Submitted
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THE mother and daughter killed in a head-on collision have been described as a “bright and vivacious woman” and a “beautiful little girl” in tributes paid by their family.

Relatives of Abigail Houston, 42, and Mia, seven, asked for time to grieve and recuperate.

Abigail’s husband Andrew, also 42, and the couple’s other daughter, Lily, were injured in the crash on the A9 between Inverness and Perth on Tuesday.

The Association of Scottish Police Superintendents (Asps) has now called for plans to upgrade the A9 – Scotland’s deadliest road – to a dual carriageway, to be brought forward.

Yesterday, in a statement issued through police, the family said: “It is incredibly difficult to find the words to express the loss that we are feeling.

“Abigail was such a bright and vivacious woman who lived life to the full, adored her family and was greatly fulfilled through her work as a paediatric occupational therapist.

“Mia was a delightful and beautiful little girl who enjoyed school and activities but most of all loved her family and friends.”

The family were believed to have been travelling north to start their summer holidays.

A man, thought to be a German tourist, who was travelling in the other vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene while his wife was taken to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness along with Mr Houston, a lawyer in Edinburgh, and Lily.

All three are said to have suffered multiple injuries and are said to be “serious but stable”.

Chief Superintendent David O’Connor, president of Asps, who served in the former Northern Constabulary and knows the Highlands well, said there are “few roads in Scotland that have the same reputation as a dangerous road”, and suggested increased police patrols and a zero tolerance approach to

illegal driving, including speeding, to make the A9 safer.

“The road needs to be dual carriageway for its entirety. While I welcome the Scottish Government position that work on making the A9 dual carriageway from Perth to Inverness will start early, in 2015-16, I have to ask, is this early enough?

“There have been other major capital investments made across Scotland for sound economic reasons. However, people are continuing to die and be seriously injured on the A9 with depressing frequency.

“Is this the case in some of the other projects? This needs to be looked at with fresh eyes and explored to see if it can be given a higher priority.

“Our elected representatives in the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament need to ask themselves if they need to reassess their priorities and bring forward improvement work as soon as possible and not in 2015 or 2016 as is currently planned.”

He added: “Perhaps the time has come to not only significantly increase the police enforcement activity specifically on the A9 but also adopt zero tolerance to unlawful driver conduct in order to save lives.”

The Scottish Government’s plan includes the upgrading of the road to dual carriageway by 2025, as most of the A9 is single carriageway.

The £3 billion work would convert 80 miles of the route.

Transport minister Keith Brown said: “We will look for any opportunity to bring work forward.”

Tuesday’s accident, believed to have been a head-on collision between Mr and Mrs Houston’s Audi and a German-registered Jeep, happened on a single-carriageway section of the road between Newtonmore and Kingussie.

The A9 has claimed more lives between 2006 and 2010 than any other road in Scotland, with a figure of 67. There were 1,026 accidents, an average of 200 a year.