The crash brought traffic chaos to the motorway south of Leeds during peak period yesterday.
Police closed the M1 in both directions following the crash as Yorkshire’s air ambulance was brought in to airlift the woman to hospital.
The crash happened at 4.30 pm on Thursday as a Suzuki Vitara was being driven south-bound near Junction 39 outside Wakefield.
“The Vitara had gone out of control in the third lane, crossed two lanes and the hard shoulder, went off the motorway and down an embankment,” said West Yorkshire Police.
The Vitara was being driven by a 35-years-old woman who suffered injuries which were described as “life-threatening.” a male passenger suffered minor injuries.
Police shut the motorway completely and diversions were put in place using slip roads either side of the crash.
“There was heavy traffic disruption as it was rush-hour,” said police. “Coming in the middle of rush-hour there is no way you are going to sort that without some problems.”