Police defend motorway shutdowns after crashes on M62

POLICE today gave an insight into problems in dealing with motorway crashes.

The van crash which closed the M62
The van crash which closed the M62

POLICE today gave an insight into problems in dealing with motorway crashes.

And they insisted “safety first” was always the key.

The comments came from Chief Insp Neil Hunter only days after the busy M62 had to be shut again because of a crash.

The man in charge of roads policing in West Yorkshire insisted the safety of emergency service personnel had to be the priority.

And he said officers would always try to divert traffic away from an incident, although this was not always possible.

Friday’s large van crash at Outlane was the eighth to bring the M62 to a halt in November.

The driver escaped serious injuries as the van hit the central barrier and overturned, shedding its load of Lucozade drinks over both carriageways.

Chief Insp Hunter said: “The motorway network in West Yorkshire covers 213 miles of roads and is one of the busiest road networks in the country.

“At peak times it is not unusual to see between 5,000 and 6,000 vehicles an hour travel through the busiest areas of the M62.

“There are times when an incident, such as a serious traffic collision, takes place that requires a motorway or road to be closed so that the police and their partners (Highways Agency, fire, ambulance, recovery and maintenance agencies) can deal with the incident.

“We have to ensure people’s safety, preserving evidence and allowing the emergency services to do their jobs without risk.

“When a serious incident does occur, preservation of life is key and management of the road is led by the police.

“A full closure of the road or motorway will normally be implemented when lives are at risk either due to injuries people have received, or the number of vehicles involved posing potential risks.

“Less serious incidents may require a partial closure of one or two lanes of a motorway or one lane of the road.

“When these types of incident occur, any closures will be communicated to the public via traffic management signs, the local media, police and partner websites and social media.

“Officers at the scene will also work to direct traffic away from an incident so as to minimise delays, though this is not always a safe and viable option.

“During serious incidents the police also have a responsibility to investigate the cause of a collision or incident thoroughly and this may require a closure of a motorway so that evidence can be seized.

“This evidence could be the vehicles involved in an incident, as well as other debris or evidence that is found during an investigation of the scene of the incident.”

He said that the aftermath of crashes could also mean that police and Highways Agency staff have to carry out repairs to the barriers or road surface, as was the case following the crash which happened last Friday.

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