The accident, which happened at 6.20am close to Junction 44, at Bramham, near Leeds, caused traffic chaos, with the motorway closed in both directions until well into the evening.
The Highways Agency was warning of three-hour delays in both directions and jams on connected roads were said to stretch as far as York and Harrogate.
Police said the HGV had swerved to avoid debris in the road.
The accident also involved a Jaguar and a Ford Focus. Four men were taken to hospital, with one receiving serious injuries, not thought to be life-threatening.
In a separate incident rail passengers also faced disruption yesterday morning following a fire on a train near Garforth station, Leeds, at 5.50am. Twenty passengers were evacuated to the rear carriage while the blaze was tackled.
PICTURE: MATT REEDER