A woman cheated death yesterday after she stepped out of her car just seconds before a 4×4 vehicle smashed into it on a dark and hail-covered motorway.
The three-car incident happened at around 7.30am on the M18 motorway in Co Clare following a heavy downpour of hailstone. Another incident just 100m away involved a single car and the occupants were uninjured.
The collisions happened about 7kms north of Ennis on the sound bound carriageway between Crusheen and Barefield where accidents regularly occur in poor weather including one last week and several others in December.
While gardaí are investigating the circumstances of the latest incident, it’s understood that one vehicle lost control on the hailstone before colliding with another car.
The collision initially involved just two cars both of which hit the protective barrier however just seconds after one driver stepped from her vehicle a 4×4 ploughed into it.
The 4×4 smashed into the drivers side of the Volvo car and rescuers believe the woman’s life was only saved by her own quick-thinking.
Three units of the fire brigade from Ennis and three additional vehicles from Gort fire service in Co Galway responded to the incident along with gardaí and an ambulance from Ennis.
The motorway was closed southbound between junctions 15 and 14 while emergency crews dealt with the incident.
One emergency work said: “Thank God she got out of the car when she did. I presume she thought it would be safer to get away from the cary. Well, if she did, the jeep just ploughed into the driver’s side and almost pushed the door almost over to the other side. No one would have survived that.”
“By the time the driver of the jeep saw the cars ahead, it was too late. It’s just amazing that it didn’t happen a few seconds earlier and that the woman got out of her car in time. Two of them (vehicles) maybe even all three were written off but still, no one was seriously injured,” he added.
Paramedics assessed the occupants of all three cars however no one was seriously injured.
Last month, several motorists were injured following four separate incidents on the same stretch M18 which also occurred following hail showers.
In December 2013, emergency crews responded to a total of 12 collision in one morning on the same stretch of motorway following similar weather conditions.
Public representatives in Clare have repeatedly raised concerns about safety issues on the M18 particularly during bad weather.
In December 2013 a total of 28 incidents were reported on M18 which stretches from Shannon in Co Clare to Gort in Co Galway.
The National Roads Authority (NRA) has previously stated: “It is incumbent on drivers to adjust their behaviour to take driving conditions into account.”