Watch: Rotherham widow launches exhibition in plea to end smart motorways on anniversary of husband’s death

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The exhibition has been created to highlight the dangers of smart motorways.

Campaign group Smart Motorways Kill unveiled its first exhibition to showcase members of the public’s concerns, fears, and experiences of travelling on smart motorways.

The exhibition, held at Rotherham Titans rugby ground, on Clifton Lane, on Wednesday June 12, was made up of messages of support for the campaign group over the two years. The group says the messages run into the thousands.

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Claire Mercer, from Rotherham, founded the campaign group following the death of her husband, Jason Mercer, five years ago - on June 7, 2019. 

Claire Mercer, founder of Smart Motorways Kill, launched a one-day exhibition at Rotherham Titans Rugby Club to highlight the support to bring back the hard shoulder. Claire Mercer, founder of Smart Motorways Kill, launched a one-day exhibition at Rotherham Titans Rugby Club to highlight the support to bring back the hard shoulder.
Claire Mercer, founder of Smart Motorways Kill, launched a one-day exhibition at Rotherham Titans Rugby Club to highlight the support to bring back the hard shoulder. | National World

Jason, aged 44, and 22-year-old Alexandru Murgeanu died when a lorry driver crashed into their stationary vehicles after a minor accident. The incident had occurred on a stretch of M1 which did not have a hard shoulder.

Speaking to The Star, Claire described how her life was “smashed apart” after the death of her husband. Since launching the campaign group, she says the support has been “overwhelming”. 

Claire and Jason MercerClaire and Jason Mercer
Claire and Jason Mercer

“I’ve been fighting this for five years because my husband was killed, but I shouldn’t have to fight,” she said. “I shouldn’t be the one translating leaflets explaining what a smart motorway is in 10 different languages on behalf of the government when they killed my husband.

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“I know several people that have been seriously injured since Jason died, and I know people that have been killed since Jason died.

“You never think it’s going to happen to you, you see it on the TV all the time. But I saw that there were two police [officers] on my doorstep and I couldn’t get hold of my husband. It’s not just on the films and in dramas, it can happen to you.”

The exhibition showed hundreds of messages of support of the campaign, with many detailing their own near-misses and tragedies on smart motorways.The exhibition showed hundreds of messages of support of the campaign, with many detailing their own near-misses and tragedies on smart motorways.
The exhibition showed hundreds of messages of support of the campaign, with many detailing their own near-misses and tragedies on smart motorways. | National World

With the upcoming election, Claire hopes the new government can take this issue seriously. She added: “We’ve had report after report, after inquiry after investigation in just the five years that I’ve been doing this. There’s just people sat around a table talking about smart motorways while people die.”

To mark five years since the tragedy, Claire paid tribute to her husband by hosting ‘MerceFest’ with live music, entertainment, and food and drink for the whole Rotherham community.

To find out more about Smart Motorways Kill, please visit: https://smartmotorwayskill.co.uk/

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