Questions over what caused fatal M1 crash

February 18 2015  

Questions over what caused fatal M1 crash

Police and the Highways Agency are looking into the circumstances of a crash on a section of smart motorway in Bedfordshire on Saturday morning in which three people died.

A coach travelling north up the M1 collided with a stationary car in the hard shoulder between junctions 12 and 13, killing three occupants in the car. A fourth man was taken to hospital with serious injuries.

The Highways Agency said that the hard shoulder was not open as a running lane at the time of the collision, but refused to confirm the status of signs on overhead gantries along that stretch of the M1. Bedfordshire Police is leading a tri-force investigation into the incident alongside Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Constabularies.

Last week prior to the crash the Automobile Association’s president Edmund King said: “It is a sad fact that there are many incidents of vehicles being hit when stationary on the hard shoulder.”

And the safety of smart motorways had been called into question last Thursday when the Highways Agency revealed that almost a third of road users do not know what to do when a Red X sign is displayed – although it is not known whether a Red X had been breached in the M1 crash.

“We don’t know the full circumstances of this tragic crash on the M1,” Mr King told TP Weekly News on Tuesday, “but we do have concerns that some people are using the hard shoulder when they shouldn’t.”

He went on to suggest that more emergency refuge areas need to be provided along stretches of smart motorway to provide somewhere safe to pull in. “If you have a tyre blowout and see there is a layby in a quarter of a mile it could save your life,” he said. “But if the layby is over a mile away and the driver is worried about a wheel coming off they might stop.”

Bedfordshire Police declined to say if adverse weather may have played a part in the collision. But a second motorway crash on the M40 around an hour later and less than 50km to the west is believed to have taken place in fog. The M40 incident involved more than 30 vehicles and resulted in one fatality.

Chief Inspector Henry Parsons of Thames Valley Police Roads Policing said: “The cause of this collision is under investigation, however, we believe that fog played a major part.”

(Photo: Highways Agency)

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