Why road where fire engine and ambulance crashed wasn’t gritted

The fire engine and ambulance were forced off the road by black ice, as was a third car. Credit: Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service

An icy road in Somerset which caused a fire engine and ambulance to crash was not gritted because it is not on the council’s “precautionary network”.

Somerset County Council confirmed Westmoor Lane, which is near the village of Langport, was not gritted prior to the crash on 8 January.

The two emergency vehicles were forced off the road after hitting black ice while responding to other ice-related crashes at the same location.

The two paramedics inside the ambulance - which was badly damaged - had to be taken to hospital for a “check over”, according to a South Western Ambulance Service spokesperson.

Somerset County Council said the road was not gritted because it is not on its 'precautionary network'.

People who live in the area have since called on the council to protect more of the county’s roads.

The council scaled back its gritting operations as part of budget cuts agreed in September 2018, reducing its network coverage to 720 miles.

However, these cuts were reversed for the winter of 2019/20 – and every road which was treated that winter is being treated again this winter.

A Somerset County Council spokesman said: "Throughout the recent cold spell our gritting crews were out in many cases twice a day, sometimes late at night and again at 4.30am.

Gritters protect more than 20,000km of roads across Somerset, according to the council.

"This includes Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

"Over this period, they used more than 1,500 tonnes of salt and treated more than 20,000km of our network.

However, it is just not possible for us to treat every road and Westmoor Lane is not on our precautionary network. Ice can still form even on treated roads so we always advise drivers to take extra care in very cold conditions.

Somerset County Council

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