A medic who survived a serious accident on the Bedfordshire section of the M1 believes it is one of the most dangerous stretches of motorway in the country.
Paul Hardwick was driving home after working a nightshift as a paramedic when his car was rammed into the central reservation after colliding with a lorry.
Mr Hardwick said: “I was driving south when, just before junction 12, I saw a HGV in lane one.
“As there was no traffic about, I went into lane three to overtake it, to give a clear lane’s width, as per my advanced driver training.”
What happened next is every driver’s worst nightmare.
“When I was about 400 yards from the HGV, an explosion erupted from the back and it began to swerve, eventually ramming my car against the central reservation.
“I climbed out of my driver-side window and looked up at the HGV cab which was on top of my bonnet.”
Mr Hardwick said it was still dark at the time and the HGV had collided with a stationary seven-seater which had broken down in lane one.
He said: “My training kicked in and despite my injuries I went to help. Imagine my dread as I walked up to the taxi looking for survivors.”
Fortunately, the taxi was carrying no rear passengers. The driver and front seat passenger both managed to get out and were taken to hospital.
Mr Hardwick said he and fellow paramedics dread getting calls to the section of the M1 between junctions 12 and 13. He said: “There have been six dead since October, and police officers have told me there are incidents nearly every day.
“After the accident I was involved in, last November, the road was shut for about four hours.”
Mr Hardwick believes the lack of lighting along this stretch is contributing to accidents in hours of darkness.
A Highway Agency spokesman said: “We keep safety on our network continually under review, and there is nothing at this stage to link the incidents that occurred on the M1 in Bedfordshire. In all cases we work alongside the emergency services to clear incidents as quickly and safely as possible.”
She added: “The majority of roads (70 per cent) we manage are not lit, and this section of the M1 meets the current standard for road lighting on the Strategic Road Network, which was revised in 2007.
“One consideration in revising our lighting standards was that vehicle technology has improved, including better vehicle lighting and brakes.
“Accidents occur as a result of many factors. Lighting is not the only solution to reducing accidents in the dark,but is one measure that can be implemented depending on the accident pattern.”