M5 crash traffic fined £16k for bus gate illegal detour

image captionMore than 550 drivers were fined for illegal bus gate use on the day of a crash on the M5

Drivers attempting to avoid a crash scene on the M5 motorway were fined a total of almost £16,000 for using a bus gate.

Two people died and four others were injured in the crash between junctions 24 and 25 on 13 September.

Hundreds of motorists opted to use the A38 to avoid queues of up to 11 miles.

A freedom of information request revealed more than 550 drivers were fined by Somerset County Council for using the Taunton "bus gate".

The request for information was made by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Traffic was not specifically diverted through the bus gate as part of any formal diversion during the several hours of M5 delays.

No new signs

Only buses, emergency vehicles and bicycles are allowed to pass along the section of road in Bathpool and Monkton Heathfield, Taunton, which is monitored by number plate recognition cameras.

Drivers of other vehicles are liable for a penalty charge.

The council said 87% of drivers who received a fine have paid up, raising the council a total of £15,960.

If all of the fines issued are paid, the council will eventually earn £18,344 from the day's fines.

Any income generated from bus gate fines must by law be reinvested in enforcement or traffic management within Somerset.

The council dismissed suggestions that extra signage is needed to prevent people from being fined due to M5 congestion in the future.

A spokesman said: "On the day of the M5 closure there was an increase in unauthorised vehicles using the Bathpool bus gate, but there were nearly 20,000 vehicles using the A38 that day and only 581 vehicles went through the bus gate."

"Anyone who is unhappy about receiving a fine is able to appeal and any mitigating factors will be considered."

An inquest into the crash has been adjourned until January 2019.

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