Mum in M65 horror smash calls for lights switch-on

A Burnley mum who broke her back in an horrific night-time car smash on the M65 has called for the motorway’s lights to be switched back on.

By Dominic Collis
Tuesday, 25th August 2015, 7:06 am
Janet Newham who is recovering from a broken back and is complaining about the lack of lights on the M65.
Janet Newham who is recovering from a broken back and is complaining about the lack of lights on the M65.

Mrs Janet Newham was hospitalised for two weeks following the accident which she says could easily have been fatal.

The Express has campaigned for some time for Lancashire County Council to switch the M65 lights back on but to no avail, despite three people being killed on the motorway recently.

We reported in June that Lancashire County Council would be carrying out a multi-million pound project that would see concrete barriers installed and lighting permanently removed between junctions 10 at Gannow Top and 14 at Colne.

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Mrs Newham, a police communications officer, was travelling home from work near to Junction 10 when she ploughed into a car which had hit the central reservation in a separate accident.

Accident investigators told her the driver of the first car, who had moments earlier left her vehicle, had been “seconds from death”.

The 58-year-old said: “I feel so angry at what happened to myself and the lady who had been driving the first car.

“We could easily have both been killed. I don’t properly know what caused the first accident, but I do know I only saw that lady’s car at the very last second – it was pitch black.

“I have worked in Hutton near Preston for two years and make that journey home regularly so I know the motorway well.

“I feel Lancashire County Council are putting money above lives in having the lights switched off.”

Mrs Newham was taken to Preston Royal Infirmary following the accident where it was confirmed she had suffered a broken verterbrae in her lower back, as well as a broken ankle, sternum and nose.

The accident happened shortly after 10pm on Sunday, July 26th, when the motorway was very quiet.

Mrs Newham now has to wear a brace and sleep downstairs until her injuries are fully recovered. She faces months of physio and could be off work for six months.

She added: “I could have been paralysed or killed so I am thankful in some way, but I feel this and the other accidents could have been avoided.

“It has made me re-think whether I will ever make that journey across the motorway again.”

A number of fatal accidents have occured on the M65 since lights were first switched off.

After Burnley father-of-two Mark Burgess (39) died in a crash near Junction 8 in November 2013, coroner Mr Michael Singleton called on the Highways Agency to reconsider the decision to switch the lights off.

Mohammed Iqbal (49) from Burnley and Mazafer Iqbal (47), of Brierfield, died after they collided with two other vehicles in July 2014.

Yet, County Coun. John Fillis, cabinet member for Highways and Transport, insisted there was no evidence that switching lights off was the cause of accidents.

He said: “The evidence we have basically says that turning off the lights will not actually cause accidents.

“We do work on evidence. It is not just cost-cutting. The evidence is that turning off lights like these does not cause additional hazards. If the evidence changes, we will look at it again.”

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