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March 13 was one of the busiest ever days on the M6, with lorry fires, car crashes and a broken-down coach affecting the journeys of thousands of motorists.

Added to the motorway mix were four arrests, the seizure of 20 vehicles and 62 tickets for drivers not wearing seatbelts.

However, thanks to improved ways of working following West Midlands PCC’s hearings into major incident response on the motorway, people were back up and moving quicker than before and any major injuries were avoided.

On Monday March 13, Highways England and Central Motorway Policing Group (CMPG) had to deal with the following incidents all on the M6:

  • A crash between two cars and a HGV, which shed its load on the carriageway.
  • A car on its side against the central reservation barrier.
  • Another crash between two cars and a HGV.
  • A HGV carrying toilet paper on fire.
  • A broken-down coach on one of the busiest stretches of motorway.

CMPG also arrested four people seized a total of 20 vehicles and issued 62 tickets as part of crackdown on drivers not wearing seatbelts.

But the network was up and running much faster than previously and major injuries were avoided after new ways of working from the Commissioner’s hearings in March and December were implemented.

The improvements included:

Incident One: 10.18am crash between two cars and a HGV that shed its load on M6 northbound between J5 and J6

The lorry lost its load on both the north and southbound carriageways but quick action by Highways England saw the southbound carriageway restored to four lanes swiftly. The northbound carriageway took longer but a quickly-executed temporary repair allowed it to reopen sooner than before. All lanes were reopened by 2.26pm.

Incident Two: 12.05pm car on its side on M6 southbound at Packington Bank between Birmingham and Coventry

The car crashed into the central reservation and came to rest with no wheels touching the floor. However, joint working between the emergency services and Highways England saw the car dragged to the hard shoulder and all lanes reopened with 11 minutes and no injuries reported.

Incident Three: 3.05pm crash between an HGV and two cars on M6 southbound between J7 and J6

In order to get a speedy assessment of the scene, CPMG stopped in the outer most lane of the northbound carriageway, hopped over the barrier and relayed the information back, allowing other services to gauge their resource requirements. Once safe, the vehicles were then dragged into lane four to get things moving again. All lanes were reopened at 5.55pm but two were operational within 40 minutes of the incident. Two minor injuries were reported.

Incident Four: 4.18pm HGV carrying toilet paper on fire on M6 northbound near Castle Bromwich

The lorry caught fire on the hard shoulder, forcing the closure of the M6 south. Fast action by Warwickshire and West Midlands Fire allowed bosses at the scene to make the call that, even though the fire was not completely out, two lanes could reopen to ease the congestion. All lanes were reopened by 9.14pm and there were no injuries.

Incident Five: 6.04pm broken-down coach on M6 southbound at J9

The coach broke down in lane two but was recovered within 45 minutes and all lanes were reopened by 7.27pm.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “This improved way of joint-working is clearly making our motorway network more efficient.

“We all know the M6 can be a nightmare but this faster way of working following my summits is is improving things massively.

“I’d like to thank CPMG, Highways England and all of the emergency services for their exceptional efforts.”

Chief Inspector Jared White from CMPG said: “Policing a motorway as busy as the M6 is a demanding job – especially on days like March 13.

“However, by working in partnership with other agencies and emergency services, we were able to keep things moving and keep people safe, which is always our top priority.”

Highways England emergency planning officer for the West Midlands Frank Bird added: “Safety is our top priority, by clearing incidents quickly, traffic officers reduce the impact of incident-related congestion and also reduce the risk of secondary incidents.

“There were a number of incidents on the M6 on Monday (13 March) that all took place within quick succession of each other. By continuing to work collaboratively with our partners, we were able to deal with them quickly and effectively and keep the Midlands moving.”

For the full details of the Commissioner’s motorway hearings and the recommendations made, click here.

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