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Driver escapes as lorry accelerator jams at 80mph

A LORRY driver was forced to weave his way through motorway traffic for 20 miles travelling at 80mph because his accelerator was stuck.

Five police cars and a helicopter formed an escort for Michael Rayner, 26, from Potters Bar, Hertfordshire - to protect other motorists - after he called them on his mobile to report the emergency. He had been driving down the M1, soon after joining the motorway at Junction 10 near Luton airport, in his Scania articulated tipper lorry when the pedal failed.

After 20 minutes Mr Rayner managed to switch off his engine close to services near Hendon, north London. His truck veered on to the hard shoulder and hit a crash barrier, narrowly missing a family in a car who had pulled over thinking the flashing blue lights on the police cars were ordering them to stop. He had been afraid of turning off his engine when the emergency started for fear of losing his power steering.

Last night Mr Rayner said: "It was a bit frightening but the police were brilliant. I was in the fast lane, on the hard shoulder, anywhere I could get through. At the same time the police were talking to me to advise me. Then they told me I had about a mile of motorway left before it finished and there was some sort of roundabout."

Jerry Bartlett, an acting duty inspector at Hertfordshire police, said: "All of a sudden we got this call through from the driver saying that his accelerator was stuck. With a vehicle that size, there is no way you can box them in and just try to slow them down as you can with a car. It was extremely tense ... None of us had dealt with anything like this before and we knew we only had a limited amount of time."

He praised Mr Rayner's courage: "It was down to his expertise and his bravery. He sounded quite calm, but listening to him at the station you could hear the tension in his voice. He was extremely relieved afterwards."