In the third and final part of the Menace On The Roads series, ANDREW HIRST examines how bad driving can cost lives and the British economy a fortune.
A CRASH on the M62 can cause queuing traffic to build up at the frightening rate of one mile a minute.
Money experts also reckon that closing the trans-Pennine motorway and the chaos it causes costs the economy £1m per minute - including people missing work and deliveries not arriving when they should.
These are worrying statistics - especially as most smashes can so easily be avoided.
The vast majority are caused by people driving too fast, too close.
It's as simple as that.
The M62 above Huddersfield seems to be forever on radio news bulletins in the aftermath of accidents.
But actually no accidents ever happen there.
The reason is that the police no longer call them accidents.
They are labelled road traffic collisions - or RTCs for short.
Insp Tim Dale, the man in charge of policing West Yorkshire's 213 miles of motorways, said: "There is always some element of culpability, particularly when we are talking about serious injuries or fatalities.
"To call these incidents accidents belittles them. They are collisions where someone needs to be brought to account. Invariably someone is culpable."
He added: "If you double your speed you need to quadruple your stopping distance - but drivers simply have no idea how long it takes to stop when travelling at 70mph.
"Modern cars are such a comfort zone in terms of brakes, power steering and airbags that drivers don't seem to realise how dangerous it is beyond the bonnet.
"It's almost a Catch 22 situation. They feel safer and so drive more irresponsibly. Driving standards have definitely slipped over the years and some people now regard traffic laws as an inconvenience rather than for their own safety.
"They feel indestructible, but if you hit something hard at 50mph your internal body organs can't cope with that instant deceleration and many people's aortas are ruptured, leading to instant death."
The M62 comes within the Examiner's area between junction 22 at Windy Hill - the moorland turn off for Denshaw, Rishworth or Ripponden - through to junction 27 at Birstall.
It's a distance of 18 miles.
In those few miles the landscape changes dramatically and the motorway itself - along with the different problems it poses - also changes.
Junction 22 is always several degrees colder than junction 25 at Brighouse for a start.
Let's begin at Windy Hill.
Traffic has just come up the long four-lane uphill stretch from Greater Manchester and at the Windy Hill junction the long drag ends.
Vehicles suddenly reach a long downhill stretch and feet go down hard on accelerators.
But the drivers are also at the highest point of the motorway network in England - 1,221ft above sea level - and the weather changes in seconds.
One minute it can be sunshine, the next hail followed by dense fog.
It catches the unwary out - especially those driving far too fast for the conditions.
Then there is the thorny issue of barriers.
The Examiner had a campaign 10 years ago for barriers to be put in front of all lamp-posts on that stretch after a spate of fatal crashes.
It turns out that some lamp-posts remain unprotected and one claimed the life of 38-year-old Golcar woman Dawn Farrar in July.
She was a passenger in a Fiat Punto which went off the motorway.
A 31-year-old woman driving another car involved was arrested by police on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
This was the only fatal crash on The Examiner's motorway patch so far this year.
In the middle of the motorway at this point is Stott Hall Farm - something of a distraction no doubt for drivers who haven't seen a working farm stuck in the middle of the motorway before.
The carriageways divide around it and many vehicles end up plummeting into the moorland ravine in the middle.
Once drivers start to approach junction 23 at Outlane they are faced with different problems.
The traffic begins to bunch up as it approaches one of the busiest motorway corridors in the country through the heart of West Yorkshire.
Insp Dale said: "I've lost count of the number of collisions we've had there where one lorry has run into the back of another."
And it can be congestion then all the way through to Birstall. The seven-mile section from Brighouse at junction 25 past Chain Bar at 26 through to Birstall at 27 can be clogged up most days with traffic crawling past.
Commuters heading for Leeds mingle with shoppers going to the retail parks that have sprung up alongside the M62 and the countless thousands of lorries pounding across the Pennines.
This is where the shunts happen, but the speed is usually much reduced, so they can be far less serious than on the Scammonden stretch.
Insp Dale said: "West Yorkshire is one of the busiest counties for motorways in the country because of the amount of miles and volume of traffic.
"The area around junction 27 came top in a nationwide poll that has seen the most rising traffic congestion in recent years.
"If there is a collision there, it's gridlocked."
On the M62 in the whole of West Yorkshire there have been three fatalities, 21 serious injury and 133 slight injury crashes so far this year.
Insp Dale said: "Apart from the fatals, the vast majority were either due to drivers tailgating or failing to judge other drivers' speed."
One of the other fatals claimed the life of Huddersfield Technical College lecturer Gerry Fenwick-White.
Gerry, 38, died when his motorcycle crashed at Lofthouse near Leeds.
The tragedy happened at junction 42 in an intersection tunnel linking the M1 southbound with the M62 westbound at 2.40am on Easter Monday.
The other fatal was recorded near Leeds after someone fell from a motorway bridge and was hit by traffic.
* Motorway police in West Yorkshire clock up 1.5m miles every year.
* The patrol cars get such wear and tear they need servicing every 6,000 miles - and that can be every two weeks for some vehicles.
* Police generally use Range Rovers as they are big, powerful vehicles which show their presence at accidents.
* They are now swapping old BMWs for new Volvo estates.
* Police also have unmarked cars equipped with video cameras so they can follow the really bad drivers and then show them immediately how dangerous they are.
* After serious smashes - especially fatal ones - the M62 can be closed for an average of six hours while a thorough investigation of the scene is carried out and the vehicles removed. This is because all fatal crashes are now classed as potential crime scenes and need both accident investigation experts and scenes of crimes officers.
* If traffic is badly stuck and at a standstill, vehicles are normally turned around from the back and sent back up the motorway to go off at the nearest junction. Sometimes if the weather is bad or to shift the traffic more quickly, engineers will slice through the central reservation barrier so traffic can turn around and go up the other carriageway once that has also been closed.
* Highways Agency officers help broken down drivers, shift debris and manage traffic congestion at hold-ups. They cannot exceed the speed limit.
* Abnormal loads are no longer escorted by the police. Private companies do the work.
* Overhead motorway signs warning of trouble ahead are controlled from Birmingham and are designed to direct traffic strategically around the country if there is a bad smash which has closed one of the motorways.