West Yorkshire Police are still investigating a serious collision that occurred on the A1(M) between junctions 44 and 45 near to Bramham just after 6.00am on Friday 16th December which caused significant traffic disruption in the area.
The collision occurred when an articulated HGV which was travelling on the southbound carriageway swerved to avoid some debris in the road and overturned and came to rest across all three lanes of the southbound carriageway.
It also crossed the central reservation barrier, blocking some of the northbound carriageway. There were then a series of subsequent collisions with a total of eight vehicles being involved.
A number of injuries were suffered by motorists with the most serious being head injuries to a 29 year old man from the Rothwell area of Leeds who remains in Leeds General Infirmary in a serious but stable condition.
Chief Inspector Neil Hunter, Head of Roads Policing said:
Roads Policing Officers were quickly on the scene of this collision and it was immediately apparent that the seriousness of the injuries sustained required a full scene investigation due to the potential for it to become a fatal incident.
Specialist collision investigators were called to examine the scene which extended over 750 yards on both sides of the carriageway to attempt to identify the cause of the collision.
The Highways Agency very quickly started to identify diversions in the area and in conjunction with the police started to release a number of media messages to warn motorists to avoid the area.
Traffic disruption continued for most of the day as vehicles trapped in queues on the A1(M) in both directions were released rearwards to the nearest junctions by the Highways Agency.
The police priority in this type of incident will always be to deal thoroughly with what could turn out to be a fatal incident which requires extensive scene examination to satisfy any subsequent legal proceedings or report to the Coroner.
There is however also consideration given, in conjunction with the Highways Agency, to minimising traffic disruption and where possible considering partial reopening of the carriageways. There were a number of factors in this incident which prevented this happening quickly which included there being no hard shoulder at this location due to the Bowcliffe Hall road bridge crossing the motorway, damage to a large stretch of the central reservation barrier and debris spread over a large area from the overturned vehicle.
I understand the frustrations of the many motorists who were caught up in queues on the motorway and in the surrounding area and thank them for their patience while waiting for the scene investigation to be completed and vehicles and debris then being removed to allow the motorway to be reopened in a safe condition.
Enquiries are ongoing in to the incident and anyone with any information about the collision is asked to contact the Eastern Area Roads Policing Unit on the non-emergency number, 101.
Maggie Carter, Operations Manager for the Highways Agency’s North East Regional Control Centre, said:
This was a very serious and complicated incident.
Police investigations must take priority but as well as managing traffic at a scene the Highways Agency will be preparing to remove vehicles, carry out repairs and clean-up the carriageway once the police have finished their investigation.
We also work hard to set up diversions, carry out welfare checks on vulnerable road users, free drivers trapped behind an incident – in this case by cutting the central reservation barrier – and keep drivers informed using our electronic signs and sending frequent bulletins to the travel media. All of this was done last Friday.
Crucially, all serious incidents are then reviewed to see whether our response can be improved.