THE M6 passing Wigan is officially one of the most dangerous stretches of motorway in the country with more than 450 accidents recorded in the past three years.
Figures released through Freedom of Information laws revealed that the Highways Agency has received reports of 451 accidents between junctions 23 (Haydock) and 27 (Standish) between 2011 and 2013.
As if to reinforce the perils: at the very moment our photographer was taking pictures of traffic on the stretch between Orrell and Standish, another smash took place.
Mercifully on this occasion, the driver of a Peugeot which had spun out of control on the northbound carriageway walked away unscathed as his vehicle blocked two lanes.
But many others have not been so lucky. The figures also reveal that in a matter of a few miles this has resulted in 92 injuries and fatalities with 153 resulting in lane closures.
The news has brought about concerns from road safety groups.
Dave Nichols, spokesman for road safety charity Brake, said: “These figures clearly show there have been a lot of largely avoidable crashes along a relatively short section of busy motorway – often resulting in needless deaths and injuries.
“Statistically, motorways are among our safest highways, with lower crash rates per mile travelled than other roads.
“However, when crashes do occur, often related to bad weather, queues, or debris on the road, the consequences are likely to be catastrophic due to the high speed of traffic.
“We urge all drivers to drive well within the speed limit and expect the unexpected so as to protect themselves and other road users.”
One fatality occurred when a 32-year-old man who was fleeing from police was killed in November 2013.
Lancashire Police said the driver died after he left his vehicle on the southbound carriageway and hurdled the central barrier.
He was struck by a car travelling north and pronounced dead at the scene.
The motorway weas closed in both directions for 12 hours.
And in November 2012, five people, including two children, were taken to hospital after three cars and an lorry were involved in a collision which forced the M6 to close for around two hours between junction 25 at Bryn and 24 at Ashton.
In November 2011, five people were taken to Wigan Infirmary after an 11-car pile up on the section near junction 27 (Standish).