Driver praised for raising motorway alert

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A LORRY driver has told how he flashed desperate warnings at on-coming drivers for 10 miles after a man drove the wrong way along a motorway.

Full-time haulier Keith Di Palma spotted the man’s headlights in his wing mirror then noticed he was travelling in the same direction but on the opposite southbound carriageway of the M6 in Warwickshire, on Thursday night.

Mr Di Palma, who drives a lorry for car-maker Ford was travelling to West Bromwich from the firm’s Dagenham plant, when the drama unfolded just past junction three at about 10.50pm.

Travelling northbound, he and a van driver first teamed up in a bid to get the driver’s attention helping to slow him down, then flashed their headlights at on-coming cars until the man was stopped by a police roadblock at the next junction along.

Motorway police praised the professional drivers’ actions shadowing the other vehicle and thanking them both on their official Twitter feed for their “excellent work”.

The elderly car driver, travelling in the outside lane southbound, is thought to have suffered a major medical episode and is being treated in hospital, Warwickshire Police said.

Mr Di Palma said: “At first I noticed his headlights in my mirror, and then I attempted to get the driver’s attention by using my lorry’s horn.

“That slowed him down and myself and a white van managed to keep up with him and constantly flashed our lights at on-coming traffic.”

Mr Di Palma, who is also chairman of junior football club Tigers JFC based in Hornchurch in Essex, estimated he flashed his lights for 10 miles before the incident came to an end.

He described overhead gantry signs also flashing warnings to other drivers, and how the man slowed from about 50mph to about 20mph before he was halted by officers from the Central Motorway Police Group.

Mr Di Palma believes the driver had a lucky escape as the motorway was busy despite the late hour, adding: “He had a few near misses but hopefully we had alerted them. To be honest it was quite busy for that time of night, but it was mainly lorries so the third lane didn’t have as much traffic on it.”

He added: “You don’t expect to see that sort of thing and hopefully I won’t again for a long time.”

The Nissan Qashqai was stopped by West Midlands Police and the driver, who is not from Warwickshire, was taken to hospital for treatment for an unspecified medical condition.