Police are mounting a major bid to cut the death toll in accidents on the M62.
Investigations are underway into a series of horrific crashes including one last week which involved a collision between a lorry and a minibus which was on its way to a hen party in Liverpool.
Officers have vowed to stamp out bad behaviour seen in previous incidents by drivers some of whom have been seen using mobile phones, tail-gating, watching television while driving and eating and drinking at the wheel.
Figures show that there has been on average 13 accidents a month over the last five years, resulting in 1,503 casualties.
Of these, 106 were killed or seriously injured, the vast majority, 1,397 were slight injuries.
From the 839 incidents from January 2007 to the end of December 2011, the most recent validated figures available, 1,954 vehicles were involved. The vast majority of them between junction 22 at Rishworth Moor and junction 34 at Selby involved cars (1,295) followed by light goods vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes (102) and heavy goods vehicles which are above 7.5 tonnes (46).
Chief Inspector Mark Bownass from West Yorkshire Police’s road policing unit, said people driving too close was a problem everywhere.
“This month we will be dealing with this offence about heavy goods vehicles driving too close and on their phone or eating their sandwiches or watching television which someone has been found doing.
“Police officers will be on the look out and will be dealing with them robustly. The operation will look at these issues especially around the motorway section.”
He added: “The first part of the managed motorway will open shortly and then we will be able to see if that works. Feedback from other areas have reported a reduction in accidents because it allows traffic to flow more freely.” He said all motorists needed to keep a distance between them and the vehicle in front and drive to the conditions. “Especially HGVs because it takes them longer to stop because they are bigger. Not all HGVs tailgate it is only the minority. But please keep your distance and drive safely.
“A vehicle is a lethal weapon and people need to drive safely and carefully and have the vehicle in their full control otherwise that is when accidents are going to happen.
“To have 13 accidents a month is still too many that we could prevent if people drive to the conditions that are in front of them. Mis-using the roads and motorways can cause the accidents and we need to stop that. We will enforce that and enforce the prosecution against them.”
Bethany Jones, 18, from South Elmsall, was killed and 19 women were taken to hospital following the accident involving the minibus last Friday on the motorway near Pontefract. Eight have now been discharged and 11 are still in hospital. All are reported as suffering from non life threatening injuries and are in a stable condition.
An inquest has been opened into the death of Bethany following the accident. The lorry driver arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving has been bailed.