Penny Roberts and her family had spent the week in London and were now part of that smuggling, returning home to West Wales. Image caption, Penny Roberts thinks her decision to ask her partner Mark to drive may have saved their lives figcaption>
It was such a regular trip that she and her partner Mark had an established routine to share the ride.
AloAs they approached Newport it would normally be his turn to drive, but that night Mark was driving.
"We had pulled over at Junction 24 for coffee, I just didn't feel like driving, so I asked Mark to continue instead "she recalls.
" I am so relieved that he I 'm not sure we would still be here without him. "
They finished their coffee and hit the roadway heading west, traveling at around 65 mph.
Penny was sitting in the passenger seat of her little A-Class Mercedes. Her 23-year-old daughter, boyfriend, and family dog huddled in the backseat; trunk full of luggage.
They passed the slip road to Junction 26 at Malpas, and were steadily gaining onto the front car when Mark indicated and moved to the middle lane to pass.
"By this time we were going uphill, and all thatI could see in front of me it was red taillights, "he said.
And then he did a double take.
" Among all the reds, I saw the glow of the white headlights, moving in front of the left. I then realized very quickly that the car was on the wrong side of the road and it was coming towards us, at high speed. "
He stayed calm and planned a course of action.
'Absolutent terrifying '
"I decided to stay in the middle lane and totally focus on the vehicle coming towards us, on the grounds that if t hey, I did swerve, I should take some evasive action "he said.
A tight five or six seconds passed, before the silver Vauxhall Astra slid into the outer lane, only half a yard from the driver's side of their car.
Mark remembers looking in his rearview mirror to see the car behind them veering into all three lanes as its driver desperately dodged a collision.
"It all happened in a split second, but it was relatively terrifying " said Penny.
"Mark is a really good driver - he saw the car and kept his cool.
"I don't know how he got the time to figure all this out, but he did. I can't be sure I would have done the same.
Penny, a former Hf reporterrance.fr Wales, pulled out his phone and joined the flurry of motorists by frantically dialing 999.
Source of the 'image, Gwent Font Image caption, The Vauxhall Astra continued to roll in the wrong direction on the M4 before colliding with a BMW
At the same At the moment, Shifa Begum and her husband Walie were on the eastbound causeway, returning home to Weston-super-Mare.
Their three children, aged 10, 6 and 15 months, all slept soundly at back.
Her husband, who was driving, suddenly asked: "Can you look at this? There's a car - it's going the wrong way!
She looked to her right and saw that they were keeping pace with a car as she drove on the opposite roadway.
"I picked up my phone and I 'Called the police, but I was so shocked that nothing came out of my mouth, "she said.
' Just awful '
She put her phone on speakerphone and let her husband talk.
"He was trying to stay calm because we didn't want to wake the kids and their children.be afraid. All I could think of is hoping this person manages to get off the road. "
" It's a Vauxhall Astra I think, "said Walie to the operator. "They always go, they don't stop.
"Are they going fast? " Asks the operator.
"Well, we're doing 50 now, and ... oh! There was a crash! They hit a car! "
" Seeing the moment they crashed like it was just horrible, I couldn't breathe, I felt physically ill ", a Shifa said.
"We slowed down right away and Walie asked me if he should go help? He really wanted to stop, but we had kids in the car. I said there was no way he could run across the freeway. "
Realizing that they had done all they could, they had to continued.
"I was literally shaking, all the way home. My legs were likehas frozen. I just couldn't stop thinking about it, "she said.
The silver Vauxhall Astra, which callers had seen traveling in the wrong direction, crashed head-on into a black BMW series, in lane three of the westbound carriageway.
As a forensic crash investigator of the Gwent police, Dean Burnett arrived at the scene, firefighters were working to free the 21-year-old driver of the BMW who was seriously injured.
The 38-year-old woman driving the 'Astra was deceased. Image caption, Collision investigator Dean Burnett at the intersection where witnesses saw the Vauxhall Astra turn left and go up the ramp
As Mr Burnett performed a careful analysis of the evidence at the scene, he had to find out why the woman was riding on the wrong roade.
Investigations have revealed how horrified witnesses saw her turn left- turn by hand from the intersection at Exit 28 in Newport.
She lived locally and was supposed to familiarize herself with the layout of the junction - but still drove on the wrong ramp, towards oncoming traffic.
She then continued for 2.8 miles before crashing into the BMW - but not without numerous close calls with other vehicles in the minutes leading up to it.
During an investigation into the The woman 's death, the coroner said it was difficult to understand why the driver did not realize his mistake and pulled over to the emergency lane.
But blood tests revealed that she had two and a half times the legal alcohol limit to drive and that she had also taken cocaine.
'Highways our safest roads '
Mr. Burnett said: "Ihad no illusions that this level of intoxication was an important, if not the main, factor in this collision. "
The 21-year-old BMW driver suffered changed injuries his life, but the terrifying reality faced by many other unsuspecting motorists that night was captured on CCTV highway.
With over 20 years of crash investigation experience serious and fatal, the impact of what he saw in the footage has not been lost on Mr. Burnett.
"There are serious near misses. You can only imagine what these conductors are going through. It's horrible.
"Freeways are statistically our safest roads - because we're all going in the same direction, so the last thing you expect is something moving towards you "said Mr Burnett.
The natural instinct of most drivers in this scenariois to brake and swerve - and this is seen many times in CCTV.
Image source, Gwent Police Legend of the'image, Among all the red lights there was the glare of the white headlights
But he added that there are ways to be sure his guards to deal with such unexpected problems on the road - and that is to stay alert and always look good ahead.
"Highways are particularly those where drivers have to tend to stop more, as traffic is going in the same direction. Extend your observations at all times, so that you can see any change in the circumstances of the road ahead.
"C It's more of an effort to do it at night, when you're tired and it's dark and you're less likely to be alert, but it's a good example of why, even when you're tired, you have always need to have your cool. "
The lasting impact
As soon as she got home, Shifa Begum started searching online , desperate to know the resultltat.
"When I saw the woman was dead I just felt numb, never seen anything like it before and wouldn't like to see it again . "
And she pledged never to drive on the highway again from that day forward.
" All these different scenarios go through you here. head. I'm so scared now. "
Penny Roberts still travels regularly between West Wales and London - but two years later the experience is never out of her mind.
"I can't drive this stretch of road without thinking about how we could all have been killed and how my other daughter would have been left alone.
"I am desperately sorry for the man who was injured, as well as the woman's family and children. But I'm also very. Cars are deadly weapons and can destroy lives.
"A few seconds could have made the difference between life and death for you.r the four of us. "
The story of how the police pieced together what happened was shown in The Crash Detectives on Hfrance.fr One Wales .
I If you or someone you know has been affected by the issues raised in this article, information about available support can be found at the Hfrance.fr Action Line website .