M6 Closure J4 to J3 Southbound, Warwickshire, Thursday 29 September 2016.
The M6 southbound in Warwickshire was closed between J4 (M42, A446) and J3 (A444) throughout the late morning and afternoon of Thursday 29th September 2016. This was following a serious collision involving 2 lorries and 2 cars that resulted in a fatality. The road was closed whilst Warwickshire Police carried out a full collision investigation, the vehicles recovered and infrastructure repairs were completed.
At 09:23 on Thursday 29th September 2016 Warwickshire Police received a 999 call from a member of the public reporting they’d witnessed a serious collision on the M6 southbound near to J3a. The caller advised that one of the vehicles involved appeared to be a lorry and that it had shed its load. At the same time Warwickshire Fire & Rescue as well as West Midlands Ambulance Service also received 999 calls from road users reporting similar and that there were injuries. As a result units from Warwickshire Police, Warwickshire Fire & Rescue and West Midlands Ambulance Service were despatched to the scene.
Warwickshire Police notified Highways England’s West Midlands Regional Control Centre of the incident at 09:25 and warning signs were set on the electronic Variable Message Signs (VMS) above the motorway on the M6 southbound and the M42 in both directions approaching the M6 interchange to warn road users of the incident.
The first emergency responders arrived on scene at approximately 09:30 and quickly established that this was a very serious collision involving 2 lorries and 2 cars. West Midlands Ambulance Service requested additional support on arrival at the scene — including the attendance of two air ambulances (from Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance and from Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance services). The first air ambulance arrived by 09:40. Despite their best efforts, they reported the driver of one of the HGVs had suffered extremely serious injuries in the collision and sadly they were unable to save the driver who was confirmed dead at the scene. Warwickshire Police immediately requested at 10:15 the motorway be closed from J4 to deal with the incident and Highways England resources (who already had patrols en-route) despatched further units and contractors to the area in order to implement the closure.
The closures of the southbound M6 approaching J4 and the roads linking on to the M6 from the M42 and M6 Toll started to be fully closed at 09:50 and the closures were in place by 11:00. The traffic that was trapped within the closure had to remain in place whilst screens were erected around the scene of the incident. Once this was done the trapped traffic began to be filtered past the scene in a lane at 12:00 and was all clear by 13:00 after an additional lane was able to be open past the scene at approximately 12:30.
With the confirmation of the road being totally closed, operators located at our National Traffic Operations Centre were informed to set national strategic signage on the wider motorway network in order to inform customers and our National Incident Liaison Officers were also briefed and began the process of informing customers and the wider travel media. Breaking News was immediately set on Highways England Websites to inform of the closure and, via Highways England social media channels [@HighwaysWMIDS], updates were tweeted on events which were unfolding and continued to be done so throughout the duration of the closure.
As the incident was within the West Midlands conurbation, there is already a pre-agreed diversion route with our partners and the diversion uses major roads nearby. This information was conveyed to the public via social media and the Highways England website as well as on incident reports issued to third party travel info providers and to the local and national media.
Warwickshire Police undertook the collision investigation throughout the late morning and early afternoon. At 14:00 the scene was handed over for the recovery of the vehicles involved and the clean-up of a large spillage of vehicle fluids. Highways England workers from our West Midlands maintenance contractors Kier were on scene ready to begin the process of clearing the road as soon as it was handed over from the police. By 15:00 it was safe to open 3 lanes (of 5) past the scene whilst they continued to clean-up. The closure of the M6 was removed by 15:30 and traffic was brought through under a rolling road block by Highways England Traffic Officers for the safety of both road workers remaining on scene and the travelling public.
The remaining debris and liquids were cleared by 16:15 and all 5 lanes were reopened by 16:35.
Throughout the incident significant delays approaching the closure on both the M6 and M42. In addition delays were seen on the diversion route detailed above. Throughout the incident Highways England kept the public informed of the closure and its impact via social media (on our @HighwaysWMids account on twitter) and online via our Traffic England website (mobile version here). Electronic Variable Message Signs on the major roads across the west of England and Midlands were used to advise approaching road users already on their journeys. Highways England produced and distributed regular updates to the local and national media and to third party traffic information providers.
If you were impacted by this closure Highways England would like to thank you for your patience and understanding.
Warwickshire Police have advised that their officers investigating the incident would like to hear from anyone who witnessed it or saw any of the vehicles, and the manner in which they were being driven, before it occurred.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Warwickshire Police Operational Patrol Unit on 01788 541111 quoting incident 96 of 29 September.
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