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publié le 20 avril 2010

On Wednesday 1 February 2006 a pile-up on the A25 motorway between Dunkirk and Lille caused two deaths, with five people injured and hospitalised. The incident occurred in a situation of general fog throughout the Nord department. The weather authorities recorded visibility of 50m at the Lille-Lesquin airport, the section of the A25 motorway between the Lys and Yser valleys was covered in particularly dense fog. According to some witnesses, visibility was down to 25 m and even less locally.

There is a traffic jam on this motorway every morning near Lille. The chain of serious accidents started at 9.03 hours, cutting off traffic in the Dunkirk to Lille direction. The last accident was recorded at 11.30 hours, at around the same time when all the entries to the motorway were cut off in both directions.

The drivers were accustomed to this motorway and were driving much too fast given the fog, with the heavy goods vehicles travelling at 90 km/hour and the light vehicles often well above 110 km/hour, the maximum speed authorised on this motorway. Half of the twenty-four accidents reported were caused by a light vehicle crashing into a heavy goods vehicle that had slowed down or was even stopped.

Pile-ups of this kind are classic. On this section of the A25, the previous one, much less spectacular, occurred on 17 April 2002 and resulted in one person being seriously injured. In the Nord Department, the last comparable major pile-up dates back to 1999 and occurred on the A2 motorway near Valenciennes. Pile-ups are falling at national level, with statistics for the past five years listing nine pile-ups per year, in other words nine accidents involving at least four vehicles. With twenty-six heavy goods vehicles involved and sixty-nine light vehicles damaged, the pile-up on 1 February is one of the biggest.

The excessive speed of the drivers was the main cause of these accidents. The installation of fixed radar devices between Dunkirk and Lille will probably contribute to ensuring compliance with the speed limit for light vehicles.
The Nord Department Technical Services Directorate does not at the moment have variable message boards or a dedicated radio station for the A25. The only means that it could theoretically have used was to place vehicles equipped with light signals at the end of the traffic jam on the motorway. On 1 February, all the teams were working on winter road duties, other accidents or were blocked in traffic jams