Motorway tragedy highlights dangers of driving in thick fog

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Motorway tragedy highlights dangers of driving in thick fog

26th March 2012

A motorway collision which tragically left two people dead and more than 20 others injured has highlighted the dangers of driving in adverse weather conditions.

Matthew Claxson, a road traffic collisions expert at Fentons Solicitors LLP, was speaking after a lorry collided with the back of a broken down coach in thick fog on the M5.

“This was a very serious collision which has tragically claimed two lives,” said Matthew, a partner with the firm. “Although it is too early to speculate on whether anyone was at fault for the incident, such collisions emphasise the need for motorists to take extra care when driving in low visibility.”

The single-decker coach, which was carrying more than 30 fruit pickers from Birmingham to Evesham in Worcestershire on Saturday, had reportedly broken down in the nearside lane of the M5 near Bartley Green in Birmingham, when it was struck from behind only minutes later by a heavy goods vehicle.

West Midlands ambulance crews treated a number of people at the scene before transferring 27 adults to four nearby hospitals.

“Although the majority of those taken to hospital are so-called ‘walking wounded,’ there are a small number known to have suffered potentially serious injuries,” said Matthew. “It is not yet known to what extent the fog which is believed to have been present contributed to this incident, however it is crucial motorists are aware of the inherent dangers driving in bad weather of any description can involve.

“Whenever visibility is reduced or weather conditions adversely affect road surfaces, it is important to acknowledge that driver reaction times will be longer and speed should be reduced accordingly,” added Matthew. ”Where heavy fog is involved, motorists must either dip their headlights or in particularly bad conditions, use both front and rear fog lights, remembering to switch them off when visibility improves. In addition, they must keep an appropriate distance between any vehicles in front and avoid following someone else’s taillights as this can provide a false sense of security and mean drivers are not fully focused on the road.”

Matthew said it was important that motorists who break down on a motorway pull onto the hard shoulder as soon as possible, if they are able to. “Hard shoulders are for emergency use only, and if you do have to pull up then drivers should leave their sidelights on and immediately switch on their hazard warning lights,” he said. “For safety, the driver and passengers should exit from the left hand side of the vehicle, and obviously keep as far away from the carriageway and hard shoulder as possible.”

The cause of the accident is still being investigated.

Read more: BBC