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Crash figures for M2 between junctions 5 and 6

By Gerry Warren

More than 160 people have been injured in crashes over the last three years on a notorious section of motorway, shock figures have revealed.

Drivers using the stretch between Junction 5 and 6 of the M2 – which takes city commuters to and from London – are used to regular lengthy delays.

But statistics obtained by the Kentish Gazette now show the full extent of the crash carnage.

The high number of crashes on the M2 has been blamed on poor driving
The high number of crashes on the M2 has been blamed on poor driving

Police and Kent County Council say that between 2014 and July 2017 there were 71 crashes in which 161 drivers and passengers were hurt.

Since July, there have been further crashes, including the latest on Saturday when a woman had to be cut free from the wreckage of a two-car smash on the hard shoulder.

But why so many vehicles crash on the straight section of motorway between Faversham and Sittingbourne is largely down to driver error, say experts.

KCC casualty reduction manager, Steve Horton, admits the number of crashes and injuries is “way too high” but says there is nothing inherently wrong with the road.

“What you have is quite a long, straight section on which a driver’s level of concentration is dropping because subconsciously they do not perceive any hazards,” he said.

Another crash between Faversham and Sittingbourne
Another crash between Faversham and Sittingbourne

“They are relaxing and switching off and that’s when problems start with the usual issues of driving too fast and too close and being distracted.”

Mr Horton admits that if a stretch of A-road of a similar length had such a shocking accident record, measures would be introduced to try to cut the number of casualties.

Like all motorways, the M2 is the responsibilty of Highways England, which has just announced major works to improve safety at Junction 5, which is considered an accident blackspot.

Police traffic officers also point to poor driving, including speeding, tailgating and distractions like mobile phones for the vast majority of crashes, but have not said they will increase patrols on the stretch.

Sgt Chris Wade, of the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “Kent has the biggest strategic road network and Kent Police must manage its resources and allocate them accordingly to help ensure people are kept safe throughout the county.

The aftermath of one of three crashes on the M2 one Friday morning
The aftermath of one of three crashes on the M2 one Friday morning

“However, we would ask motorists to play their part and ensure they drive in a safe and responsible manner.”

A Highways England spokesman said: “We record the number of incidents on our motorways and roads, and look to implement safety measures where we can and where it is felt they are required.

“We also work to improve driver behaviour, through measures including various campaigns and messaging so drivers can be aware or informed of what to expect on their journey.

“One area we have identified for improvement is Junction 5 of the M2 with the A249.

“It is currently one of the top 50 national casualty locations on England’s strategic road network, and we have consulted on the proposals to improve the junction, which will not only improve safety, but also help to boost the economy and support the potential development of homes and jobs in the local area.”

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