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LAST WORD: Ross-shire tyre blow-out highlights pothole problem

By Hector MacKenzie

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A familiar sight on our roads.
A familiar sight on our roads.

IN over 30 years of driving, I have only ever experienced two car tyre blow-outs.

Compared to some of the Ross-shire residents quoted on page 3 of this week's Ross-shire Journal, that places me in charmed life territory.

Both happened on the A9 and both were scary. In the first, the rest of the family was in the car with me and we were headed to Glasgow Airport en route to an eagerly anticipated holiday.

The blow-out just south of Inverness left us deflated in more ways than one as it looked certain we would miss our flight. A magnificent response from the AA and then a local tyre fitter saw us good then and we made our flight with minutes to spare.

I still remember the golden glow of gratitude as we plonked into our plane seats. I was deeply grateful my family was OK but also for the kindness of strangers who went, yes, the extra mile to get us on our way.

The second was just last week en route to an evening meeting in Balintore that I never did make. It happened in pitch darkness which made the sickening pothole thud and screeching sound of metal on tarmac all the more disorientating.

There was no tyre left to repair – it was totally shredded – and the wheel itself looked as though it had rolled its last revolution. My mobile phone battery was – highly unusually – almost dead and the first call I chose to make revealed breakdown cover was no longer in place for the vehicle I was driving.

I’d managed to get off the A9 on a side road signposted Logie Hill. But there was not a soul around. It was very dark and very cold. There were many people, I mused, who would be freaked out in this situation. I was about 10 minutes away from becoming one of them.

I tried to recall the name of the recovery firm that hauled me out of a ditch on the Struie decades ago after a pre-dawn slide on black ice. (It came to me, unhelpfully, hours later: Ross’s.) Having texted my whereabouts back home and assured my wife all would be well (without any solid grounds for such an assertion), a Good Samaritan who had been visiting his parents nearby pulled up beside me and offered help.

I had decided I would call a taxi but was very grateful he had stopped. Ross-shire always delivers in these situations. And let’s just say I have never been so glad to see a taxi show up.

Many of our roads are very bad. But you knew that, right? And this is the main one through the Highlands. My advice? Always make sure your phone is charged and your breakdown cover is in place. Strangers won’t always necessarily be kind.

We launched our campaign last month.
We launched our campaign last month.

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