Calls for speed restrictions as Kent politician claims 130-car crash could have been prevented

The pile-up on the Sheppey crossing bridge left 60 people injured, eight of them seriously

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The Independent Online

Basic speed restrictions and better lighting could have prevented the horrific 130-car pile-up on the Sheppey crossing in Kent which left 60 people injured, a local politician has claimed.

The dual-carriageway stretch of road over the bridge has operated to the national speed limit of 70mph since it was opened in 2006, and a Kent councillor said he has been campaigning for changes to make it safer ever since.

Edmund King from the AA told the BBC that “as a minimum” the bridge needed electronic warning signs which can be used to give advice to road-users during severe weather.

He said there was “a good case here for reducing the speed, particularly when there’s bad weather.”

Police still don’t know exactly what caused the accident at around 7.15am on Thursday morning, but have said it is “truly miraculous” that no one was killed.

Chief Inspector Andy Reeves, from Kent Police, told Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s still the early stages of the investigation. We know clearly it was very thick fog - that is clearly a major factor in the investigation.

“We’re not clear as to the reasons. But we know a vehicle just coming off the bridge back onto the mainland was involved in some kind of collision. Subsequently we had four significant pockets of collisions behind it.”

He warned drivers not to get “lulled into a false sense of security” by the apparent calm which falls during dense fog, but others have argued that more could have been done to protect those involved.

Councillor Ken Pugh, from Swale Borough Council, said his calls for better lighting and speed restrictions on the bridge over the past seven years had been ignored.

He said: “If the bridge had been lit properly and speed signs had come up, perhaps the tragedy would not have happened.”

The incident reportedly went on for around ten minutes, even after police had arrived on the scene, and eyewitnesses recalled how they feared cars would keep coming through into the back of the crash site in a domino effect.

David Bizley from the RAC agreed with the police’s sentiment that it was a “miracle that nobody was killed”.

He said: “There was fog and the road was damp and we have had a prolonged period of hot weather so the road was greasy. There are pockets where someone has been driving too fast and too close and that causes an accident.”

The remains of a car involved in the accident on the A249