Horror crash causes road chaos
By Jonathan BarnesAN horrific accident involving two lorries forced the closure of one of the region's busiest roads and caused major traffic congestion across a town.
By Jonathan Barnes
AN horrific accident involving two lorries forced the closure of one of the region's busiest roads and caused major traffic congestion across a town.
The incident – in which one of the lorry drivers was dragged out of his burning cab by a passing motorist – happened on the A14, near Ipswich, at 5.15am yesterday and caused the road to be completely blocked in one direction for almost 12 hours.
Just minutes earlier a lorry had collided with a car on the opposite carriageway of the road and the two accidents saw the A14 closed completely in both directions for almost four hours, creating major congestion across Ipswich as traffic was diverted through the town.
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Motorists faced huge delays throughout the day and the problems prompted a Suffolk county councillor to demand a review of safety on the A14.
The first accident happened when a Vauxhall Corsa was involved in a collision with a DAF truck on the eastbound carriageway of the A14 at Sproughton.
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No-one was injured in the accident, but police said it was believed the driver of an Iveco Ford van travelling in the opposite direction stopped to see if he could give any assistance.
Ten minutes later a collision happened on the westbound carriageway between a DAF heavy tractor articulated lorry and the Iveco Ford van.
The DAF lorry, which was carrying pre-cooked hospital food, overturned from the impact of the collision and caught fire, and 25 firefighters battled for more than an hour to get the blaze under control.
Suffolk police said the 38-year-old driver of the burning lorry was dragged to safety by a passing motorist. He was taken to Ipswich Hospital with serious, but not life-threatening, injuries and was later due to be transferred to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.
The man who rescued the driver was treated for minor burns and police said he was suffering from shock. Two other people were treated for smoke inhalation after they tried to help at the scene. The driver of the second lorry, which was carrying ceramic tiles, was not injured.
Following the accidents, the A14 was closed from its junction with the A1156 to the Copdock Mill interchange. The eastbound carriageway was reopened at about 9.15am, but the westbound carriageway remained closed until about 5pm.
A Suffolk police spokesman said: "Due to the seriousness of the second collision, a full accident investigation had to be carried out before attempts could be made to move the two large vehicles.
"Specialist lifting equipment had be brought to the scene to recover the vehicles that had been badly damaged as a result of the collision and the subsequent fire."
The Highways Agency said the road was reopened with a 40mph speed limit in place. One lane of the westbound carriageway was closed at about 8pm for the crash barriers and safety fencing to be repaired and replaced, and the work should be completed in spells over the weekend.
The speed restrictions on the stretch of road will remain in place until the work is completed at some point over the weekend.
Following the day of delays, Suffolk county councillor and Liberal Democrat group leader Kathy Pollard called for a review of safety on the road.
"The Highways Agency needs to carry out an urgent review of safety on the A14 through Suffolk and to make the information available to the public. I am not convinced that they are taking safety seriously on this stretch of road," she said.
"There also needs to be a review of diversion routes and the handling of traffic following accidents as it is taking longer and longer to clear accidents, which causes disruption to traffic throughout Ipswich and surrounding villages."
A Highways Agency spokeswoman said: "We constantly review safety on the A14 and following every major accident on the trunk road in Suffolk we meet with Suffolk police to agree how the incident was dealt with.
"Any improvements that are identified as necessary resulting from any incident are carried out when funds are available."
She added: "The diversion routes that the agency uses are agreed with the police and local authorities before they are implemented.
"These are put in place as quickly as possible following any incident that closes the carriageway. We avoid using diversion routes through towns and cities wherever possible."
Further problems hit traffic in Ipswich when a lorry spilled 300 gallons of diesel on Wherstead Road early yesterday afternoon, causing delays.
Police appealed for anyone who witnessed either accident on the A14, including a second person who helped to drag the injured man from the vehicle, to contact Pc Gary Heath on 01473 613500.
ONCE an accident has happened, it is the responsibility of the police to carry out investigations.
Speaking to the East Anglian Daily Times earlier this year, Pc Andy Garden, of Bury St Edmunds traffic police, explained the force's response.
"The first priority at any accident is to try to save the lives of the people involved, at whatever cost. Once the scene is clear of emergency services, then our job can really begin," he said.
Pc Garden added investigators used digital cameras to photograph and record any evidence at the scene of the accident.
"Our job is to collect as much information as possible so we can offer a picture of what happened to a court, insurance company, a victim's family, or a coroner," he said.
The Highways Agency has the responsibility to make the public aware of the accident and potential trouble spots through the media.
Police and the Highways Agency work together to set up diversion routes and contractors clear the wreckage away, while engineers carry out any necessary maintenance to the road before it can be reopened.