Police explain accident delays

AFTER police were called to yet another serious road accident on the A14, more questions arose today over the impact of road closures on the Suffolk economy.

AFTER police were called to yet another serious road accident on the A14, more questions arose today over the impact of road closures on the Suffolk economy.

Just 24 hours after traffic was forced through Ipswich after an accident on the Orwell Bridge, another serious crash closed both carriageways of the road near Bury St Edmunds.

The problems caused by road closures in the Ipswich area were highlighted on Thursday when the whole area was gripped by near gridlock following the accident on the bridge.

The knock-on effects of a collision on the county's major through-route and the main by-pass around the town are often felt much further afield - tailbacks stretching miles, severe congestion on other roads as frustrated drivers seek alternative routes.

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Yesterday's accident saw traffic forced on to country roads as officials struggled to clear the main route.

There is a huge impact on business as deliveries are delayed, people late for meetings, shoppers deterred and cargo is stuck.

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But police say dealing with a crash on the dual carriageway and re-opening the road is not a quick process - and certainly not as simple as removing the injured, pushing the vehicles to the side of the road and letting the traffic through.

In the latest crash on the Orwell Bridge - in which three motorists were injured, one with serious head injuries - it took three hours to re-open the road, which officers said was quick for such a serious accident.

However that still left many motorists feeling very frustrated as even those who would not normally use the bridge found themselves caught up in the chaos around the town.

INSPECTOR Trevor Sharman, in charge of the traffic police at force HQ, said the first priority in any incident was those who were injured and trapped in vehicles.

“Getting medical treatment to those who are injured, the preservation of life, or dealing with a fatality, is the main concern of everyone at the scene when an accident first happens,” said Insp Sharman.

“Sometimes extricating people from vehicles is rapid, but sometimes this can take quite a time and has to be done very carefully. A person's medical needs have to be assessed and much will depend on the damage to any individual.

“We have to make sure the scene is safe and ensure the safety of all the medical and other emergency officers of all services, including the Highways Agency, who are called to the scene.”

Sometimes there can be delays in dealing with traffic or setting up diversions because the Highways Agency staff also have to get through the jams.

Once casualties have been taken to hospital the main concern of the police team is a full investigation. The expert collision reconstruction team analyses road markings, the state and position of the vehicles, debris and other factors to draw up a picture of what happened.

“Anyone who has suffered the loss of a beloved one or had them suffer serious injury in a road traffic accident would want it properly investigated so they know what happened - they have a desire to know,” said Insp Sharman.

“We have a duty, too, to investigate a collision fully - we may need to bring a prosecution against a driver involved and we need to gather the evidence. If someone has died, then there will be an inquest and we need evidence for the coroner.

“We also need to examine the circumstances to work out how the collision occurred to see if we can learn anything which might prevent similar accidents in the future. All of this can take quite a time.”

After this the vehicles need to be separated, debris cleared and removal and recovery arranged. Often lorries need specialist equipment if damaged or even to be unloaded before being moved.

“We do everything we can to minimise delays and deal with collisions expediently because we accept the volume of traffic that uses the A14 cannot be taken by any other road networks in Suffolk,” he added.

What do you think about how accidents on the A14 are dealt with? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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