Could better warnings have averted pile-up?

The fatal crash on the M6 north of Burton Services on Monday.
The fatal crash on the M6 north of Burton Services on Monday.

AN eight-vehicle smash on the M6 which left two people dead has raised concerns that the signs were not adequate to warn of the danger of tail-backs.

The incident happened at 8.15am on Monday on the M6 northbound just passed Burton services, near Carnforth, between Junction 35 and 36. Two lorry drivers – Michael Proctor, 22, from Southport, and Alan Walmsley, 62, from Longridge – died at the scene.

Police said a 42-year-old woman from Lancaster, whose Peugeot 306 was crushed between two heavy goods vehicles, suffered whiplash injuries and remains in hospital.

A 29-year-old man from Lancaster, who was driving a Mercedes flatbed HGV, and was also involved in the crash, was not injured.

One driver, who did not wish to be named, passed the scene just minutes before it happened and said he believed a crash was going to happen because there were no signs warning of tailbacks on the M6 due to roadworks on the A590 to Kendal.

He said: “I knew there was going to be a crash. There should have been signs long before the tail-back.

“I was driving along the middle lane at about 70mph and all of a sudden there was a huge tail-back of cars.

“Motorists were having to brake heavily because there was no warning that there was going to be standing traffic. Cars were stationary in the slow lane and they didn’t have their hazard lights on.

“I’d say the queue of standing traffic was about a mile long.

“The day after the accident people were still stopping dead in the middle lane and indicating to get across into the slow lane to get off the motorway.

“The authorities had put up signs much further back warning about roadworks and queues.

“I have decided to go to work on the back roads now instead of the M6 because it’s so dangerous.”

Other drivers expressed similar concerns to the Lancaster Guardian about road safety and signage.

A team of 30 police officers attended the scene and at times there were up to 25 emergency service vehicles present.

Cumbria Police said that the exact circumstances leading to the collision were under investigation, however a spokeswoman said that a large shunt occurred while some of the vehicles were stationary in traffic.

A spokesman from the Highways Agency said: “Monday’s incident is the subject of an ongoing police investigation and it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time. Our sympathies are with everyone affected.”

Mr Proctor was driving a blue flat lorry and Mr Walmsley was driving a Spar lorry.

A 26 year old man driving a yellow HGV, from Preston, a 57-year-old man driving a red Volvo HGV, from Chorley, a 62-year-old man driving a silver Renault traffic van, and a man from Wigan, whose silver Volkswagen Golf was damaged from the debris of the collision were all uninjured.”

The M6 northbound was closed between Junction 35 and 36 until 6.40pm on Monday while the scene was cleared and the road was made safe.

A police investigation is underway by officers from Cumbria Constabulary’s Roads Policing Unit.

Anyone with information should contact PC Andy Docker by calling 101.