DRIVERS trapped in queues for hours in the aftermath of Wednesday's fatal crash on the A31 have criticised Hampshire Police for their handling of the situation.
Hundreds of motorists were stuck in queues for several hours after two motorcyclists collided with a horse near Ringwood at around 6pm, leaving one dead and the other with serious injuries.
Full story of the fatal crash on the A31 last night here The incident took place on the westbound part of the dual carriageway, just half a mile from the Picket Post services.
The road was part closed, but eventually a route was cleared by officers and cars were guided slowly past the debris.
Others were forced to do U-turns in the road and drive back up the carriageway.
One driver, Tracy Jordan, described the operation as a “shambles”.
“I think first thing to say is of course condolences to the family of the poor motorcyclist, and my thoughts are with everyone affected,” she said.
“I joined the A31 at about 5.45pm and got home to Ringwood at midnight.
“The exercise to release motorists was a shambles.
“We were aware that a major incident had occurred by 7pm. Why did the police not start to release motorists from the back at that stage?
“Obviously mobile reception on that stretch is patchy, and no information was distributed so some motorists took matters into their own hands and turned and headed back through the queues, making matters worse.
“But when we did finally get turned, there was no police guidance on where to go or even to turn off at junction 1. I was amazed there wasn't another accident.”
Mark Fudge was caught in the traffic at around 5.45pm, and didn't get home to Bournemouth until 1.35am. Like many motorists he was forced to choose between running the engine to keep warm or saving petrol for when the traffic got going again.
“As a motorcyclist myself I really feel for the two riders' families, but the police need to answer some serious questions on their handling of the initial and subsequent situations,” he said.
“I came to a halt mid-way through the forest at about 5.45pm, fair enough there was a horse on the carriageway.
“Thirty minutes later both lanes of traffic started off again but then stopped after only a minute or two.
“Now I wasn't at the front of the queue but this action of the traffic tells me that the police had decided to let the traffic go without actually getting the horse off the carriageway.
“Three motorcyclists filtered past me in the first queue, only one returned about four hours later.”
Mike Habgood said he and a colleague were trapped for four hours having been up since 5am on a work trip to Swansea.
“Although we appreciate that an investigation has to take place, the police did not deal with the situation well,” he said.
“I'm sure there were many other drivers, young, old or alone, ho were no longer able to fully concentrate on the remainder of their journey, in the dark, on roads they were not familiar with.”
Another driver, Lawrence Goodhand-Tait, was critical about how traffic information was passed to drivers.
“Sympathies for those that really suffered, both the deceased and the other in a serious condition,” he said.
“Whilst I find traffic reports generally helpful, it would be nice if the police had a system to directly relay their thoughts to us.
“Perhaps it could be relatively easy for the police to set up a national website to reduce confusion.”