EMERGENCY services responded to a series of accidents on a stretch of the A1 in Northumberland yesterday, as black ice sparked chaotic scenes.
Northumbria Police and Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service were called to a number of collisions on the road between Alnwick and Morpeth yesterday morning amid reports that it was coated with black ice.
There were also numerous reports of cars having left the A1 due to the conditions. No serious injuries were reported in any of the incidents.
Last night motorists and people living in the area said that the absence of serious injuries was down to good fortune. Locals said there has been similar scenes over the winter in previous years.
Last night the Highways Agency claimed the stretch of road had been gritted three times in just over 12 hours, and that it was being continuously treated throughout yesterday.
The fire and rescue service said it had attended five collisions on the road, with police saying officers had been to four accidents.
Fire officers said many more cars had spun off and both services said all incidents had been caused by the icy conditions. Police said there had been no reports of anyone being seriously injured.
One woman had to be cut from her car at Causey Park at around 7.30am and another woman also had to be freed from her vehicle on the Felton bypass. Fire crews from Alnwick, Pegswood and Amble dealt with incidents.
Last night, Felton resident Hazel Hood told how she had driven to Alnwick yesterday morning to go shopping, and had to pull over into a layby for 20 minutes as the road conditions were so bad.
Mrs Hood said: “It was absolutely horrendous, the roads were atrocious. I wish I hadn’t gone out.”
Her husband Tony, chairman of Felton Parish Council, said it was fortunate no one had been injured or killed.
Coun Hood said the fact the road is looked after by the agency, whose regional office is in Yorkshire, as opposed to Northumberland County Council, is a problem.
He said: “When it has been gritted, if it has been gritted, I just do not know. I do not know who decides when the gritters come out or how, probably somebody in Leeds.”
An agency spokesman said: “We work very closely with the Met Office and have our own roadside weather stations to help us make a judgement when to treat our routes.
“The A1 around Morpeth in Northumbria was treated at 7pm and 10pm last night and again at 7.45am today. The route is also being patrolled and treated as necessary throughout today.
“We always advise drivers to make time for winter, checking weather conditions before setting out and driving to conditions – including leaving extra time for journeys, allowing more room for braking and avoiding sudden movements – once they are on the strategic road network.
“Local conditions such as bends or overhanging trees can mean that extra care is still needed when driving even after road surfaces are treated with salt.”