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M5 J25 Tragedy

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The horrific pile up on Friday on the M5 near Taunton was the worst motorway accident in about 18 years. It left 7 dead and 51 injured. Our thoughts are of course with those whose lives were lost or forever changed in those few tragic moments.

The cause is still being investigated. And, as ACC Bangham (Avon & Somerset Constabulary) says, “Accountability is clearly something we will look at when you’ve had an incident such as this.” The search is on for someone to blame. Spare a thought, then, for those who may be living with the anxiety that they may have contributed in some way to the disaster and the personal suffering: drivers whose judgment of the conditions might have been poor and who may have driven unsafely; or the organisers of a firework display close to the motorway which is now at the centre of investigations – “Our main line of inquiry has now moved towards the event that was on the side of the carriageway,” (ACC Bangham again).

Isobel Lang (Sky News forecaster) writing in the Sunday Times observed that “smoke particles are hygroscopic … which encourages fog to form at lower humidity than in clean air.” High pressure brought clear skies and light winds over the weekend. Patchy, but thick, mist is common across the low lying Somerset levels. It can be alarming to be driving in apparently clear conditions and suddenly to run into a dense wall of mist: so much more so, then, if smoke was adding to its density.

Even if the firework display is found not to have been a contributory factor, it is likely to lead to closer scrutiny in the future not least by the insurers of such events. You have to feel sorry for well intentioned people running a family event whose actions are now being closely picked over.

When ‘accountability’ has been looked at, there is a likely to be substantial litigation following this tragedy!

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