A driver had to be cut out of his crushed van after a crash with an articulated lorry on the M1 by Watford this morning.

The driver of Ford Transit panel van was trapped by his legs following the accident with the lorry between Junctions 5 and 4 southbound at around 5.50am.

When firefighters from Watford arrived at the crash off-duty paramedics were already helping the driver of the transit van.

Watch commander Dave Elliott said: "He (the driver) was conscious. We had to use two sets of cutting equipment and it was a bit complicated as we could not take the roof off. So we used cutters and spreaders to gently leaver it apart.

"It took about 40 to 45 minutes to extricate him."

Watford Observer:

Picture by @redsfirewatford

The M1 had to be closed between junction 4 and junction 6a as there were initial concerns that hazardous materials were being carried on one of the vehicles.

It was later established that there were no such materials and the northbound carriageway was closed while it was being established if an air ambulance would need to attend.

However, in the end the air ambulance was not needed.

The closures caused rush-hour gridlock around Watford as traffic spilled off the motorway and onto the surrounding roads.

Hertfordshire Constabulary said there was a diesel spill in lanes three and four and the Highways Agency was called to clear it up.

The heavy goods lorry and the white Ford Transit panel van both had to be recovered.

The male driver of the van was taken to St Mary’s Hospital and his injuries were described as "non life-threatening".

Mr Elliott added the driver could have been more seriously injured considering the speed of the crash.

He said: "He was very, very lucky. But there were injuries to his lower legs."