Two closures of the M6 in Staffordshire due to HGVs catching fire just days apart buck the trend for lorry-related accidents - which have plummeted in the last decade according to official figures.

Motorists travelling in both directions between junctions 12 (Cannock) and 13 (Stafford) were left facing a mammoth 10-hour closure earlier this week after a lorry overturned and caught fire.

A West Midlands ambulance service spokeswoman said: “The driver of the lorry, a man, was already out of the vehicle when the ambulance crew stopped to render aid.

“He was assessed on scene and treated for relatively minor injuries before being taken to Royal Stoke University Hospital as a precaution.

“Considering what happened, it’s incredibly lucky that no one suffered serious injuries.”

The incident came just a week after the northbound carriage of the M6 between junctions 14 and 16 was closed due to another lorry fire, resulting in eight-mile tailbacks.

But figures show that lorry-related accidents on the UK road network have fallen significantly over the last few years.

Government statistics show that in 2013 there were 146 incidents of articulated lorries jack-knifing or overturning and each year since has seen a steady reduction, with just 78 recorded in 2017 – the most recent year available.

On motorways, HGVs involved in reported accidents have fallen from more than 1,400 in 2013 to 1,100 in 2017.

And accidents on all roads since 2007 involving HGVs have more than halved, from 10,688 to 5,136.

Chrys Rampley, RHA crime and infrastructure manager, said advancements in lorry technology may have contributed to the overall decline: “I think it’s a mixture of driver training and technology and that’s why those numbers are coming down,” she said.

“But I still believe we have a way to go to improve the communication involved in managing the clear up. We have been holding Highways England to task on this for years: getting them to improve the clear up times.

“There are lessons to be learned.”