HAMPSHIRE’S Police and Crime Commissioner is to meet roads chiefs to draw up a blueprint for the aftermath of major accidents after thousands of motorists were caught up for hours in the wake of a crash that claimed the life of a motorcyclist.
Simon Hayes says the authorities have “social responsibility” to help drivers stuck in jams after incidents such as the fatal smash when two bikers hit a loose horse on the A31 in the New Forest last week.
Drivers were left stranded in their cars for up to seven hours as police investigated and cleared up the scene.
As reported Daniel Robins (above), from Bournemouth, died when he and another rider were in collision with the animal on the westbound carriageway at around 6pm on Wednesday last week.
Drivers were stranded in their cars for several hours until 1am with no food or water – and say they were given virtually no information by police.
Police handling of the incident was initially referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPPC) which has decided not to investigate the incident and will allow Hampshire Police to carry out its own inquiry.
Mr Hayes wants to meet representatives from the Highways Agency and voluntary organisations to put measures in place to protect drivers.
He said he is in no way blaming the police or emergency services but says more should be done to provide members of the public with information, alternative routes to escape the jams and access to food, water and toilets.
Mr Hayes stressed that the widespread gridlock was an “extraordinary incident”, but said: “For people to be stuck in their vehicles for seven hours is completely unacceptable.
“We need to try and develop a policy that if a road is going to be closed for a long period of time can we can divert people away from the accident or ensure we help with their welfare.
“It’s right that the emergency services are concentrating on the accident, cutting people out or putting out fires but we need to look at how we can manage everything else.
“Is it really necessary for people to be contained for that long?”
“I’m not saying the police are responsible but it is a case of social responsibility.”
A Highways Agency spokesman said normally during a traffic incident it is for the police to consider the provision of welfare working with other authorities including themselves.
He said: “We would welcome any discussions that would enable the provision of welfare when required.”
Last week campaigners called for former crossover points in the A31’s central reservation to be reopened to allow drivers to be diverted away from the scene of major accidents.
They were closed several years ago after a police motorcyclist was killed in an accident caused by a motorist doing a U-turn.