POLICING of Scotland’s most dangerous road is poorly resourced and leading to lengthy closures which are having a “profound” effect on Highland communities, according to politicians.

Current capacity is said to be unable to respond “flexibly enough “ to the huge influx of traffic on the A82 in the Summer months, when accidents are most frequent.

A key issue of concern in areas including Lochaber area is said to be a reliance on forensic collision experts based in Dingwall, which is around 72 miles from Fort William.

The community has long called for a dedicated crash investigations unit to be based in the town.

HeraldScotland:

It is understood, one officer has been trained to perform the specialist accident investigation role alongside regular policing duties.

The A82, which connects Glasgow and Inverness through Fort William, has been revealed as the deadliest road in the country.

On this stretch, 73 serious or fatal accidents took place between January 2017 and Summer 2019.

READ MORE: Police name motorcyclist killed in Highland crash on A82

Kate Forbes, SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said policing of the road “was a long running issue” while Ian Blackford, the area’s MP said lengthy closures were having a profound effect on local communities.

There has been a spate of accidents on the ‘gateway to the Highlands’ trunk road this month.

A 56-year-old motorcyclist died after being involved in an accident near Fort William last Saturday. The road was closed for almost seven hours while a specialist police officer travelled from Dingwall with traffic diverted onto the Corran Ferry. 

HeraldScotland:

Police say accidents involving fatalities involve meticulous analysis of the road and it “isn’t  unusual” for this to take several hours.  

A spokeswoman said there was no one available in Fort William to carry out forensic examinations of the road after last Saturday’s accident.

One former councillor said it had become more difficult to raise local policing issues after the centralisation of Police Scotland.

READ MORE: Major review aims to reduce accidents on Scotland's deadliest road

Fort William councillor Ben Thompson said:  “My heart goes out to those families impacted by this latest A82 tragedy. The emergency services who respond to such accidents and deal with their aftermath do an extremely difficult and demanding job and deserve our fullest thanks and ongoing support. 

HeraldScotland:

“Following far too many accidents in previous years, Lochaber councillors have questioned whether sufficient resources are available to the emergency services in the West Highlands, particularly the police in the summer months, and have called for greater support. 

“I’d repeat that call – the West Highland road network is arguably less resilient than anywhere else in Scotland and the economic impact of disruption arguably much greater too. 

“West Highland roads deserve more investment to create a much safer, more resilient network.”

A major review is underway aimed at improving the safety of the A82, which twists its way via Loch Lomond, Glencoe, Fort William and Loch Ness.

The notorious Loch Lomond stretch has benefited from widening, while significant works are planned from Tarbet to Inverarnan. The consultation aims to identify other areas most in need of safety measures, which can then be prioritised for work.

READ MORE: A82 closed again and driver charged after two-car crash 

Drivers cite the stretch from Ballachulish to Fort William and the area around Loch Ness as particular trouble spots.

Road safety campaigners have suggested that two plus one overtaking lanes and raising the speed limit for HGVs could help cut accidents on the road.

Chief Inspector Jenny Valentine, local area commander for South Highland, said: “ As with any fatal road crash, the road requires to be closed to allow the officers to thoroughly investigate the crash.  It is not unusual for this to take several hours due to the complexities of the collision scene.  

“The impact on motorists is a significant consideration and we appreciate the frustration this can cause, especially if there is a long diversion route.  

“We have forensic collision investigators based across Scotland, including Fort William.

"These are specialist officers who carry out this role alongside their core function as a police officer.  

"They are part of a national response and therefore could be deployed anywhere required.

"The nearest available specialist officers are deployed where and when required.”

Ian Blackford, SNP MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, said: "When accidents happen, quite apart from the devastation caused to the families concerned, lengthy closure of the A82 to facilitate police investigation can have a profound effect on the daily lives of entire communities.

“I believe it is imperative that the feelings of those who have first-hand knowledge and experience of the road are taken into account and that the A82 is prioritised for urgent improvements.”