Motorists have again been warned to “drive to the conditions” following a ten-vehicle incident on the M18 yesterday.
A flood of emergency calls prompted the largest response from the combined emergency services to any incident on the M18 motorway since the Ennis Bypass section of the route was opened in 2007.
Ten drivers and several passengers escaped serious injury following four separate incidents that occurred on the same stretch of road and within seconds of each other.
The collisions happened at around 11.30am at Manus between Dromoland and Killoo on the M18 during a heavy downpour of hail.
Nine vehicles were involved in three separate crashes in the northbound lanes while a single car lost control and collided with a crash barrier in the southbound carriageway just yards away.
Ambulances, including vehicles usually used for patient transfer duties, along with advanced paramedic rapid response vehicles were sent from Limerick and Ennis.
Seven units of the fire brigade and gardaí from both Ennis and Shannon also responded to the incident.
Senior National Ambulance Service (NAS) personnel including the NAS’s medical director Dr Cathal O’Donnell, along with Clare County Fire and Rescue Service officers also attended the incident.
The M18 was closed northbound at Dromoland and traffic diverted onto the old N18 road while emergency services assessed and dealt with the individual accidents.
The incidents happened within seconds of each other and in the same 150 metres stretch of the motorway close to the Manus flyove. Some of the drivers may have been trying to avoid collisions in front of them when they piled up.
Several other vehicles managed to stop in time and avoid ploughing into the other incidents.
Drivers and passengers were assessed by paramedics, some in the rear of ambulances, and while most were discharged, several were transported to hospital for further precautionary assessment.
National Roads Authority (NRA) motorway maintenance crews responded to assess damage to crash barriers and clear debris from the roadway. Fire crews used special dispersants to clear an oil spill that resulted from the collision.
An NRA spokesman said: “We all need to understand that during difficult weather events such as heavy downpours, freezing hail, snow and ice the road itself becomes a totally different driving environment compared to a clear dry day.”
“It’s not rocket science, it is meteorological science. These weather events are not unique and will continue to happen. As a result, the only element that has any control over reacting to these weather events is the driver. If the weather is bad, don’t drive like it’s not!”, the NRA has warned.