Widow of man killed on smart motorway in Sheffield calls for Highways England to face criminal charges
The widow of a Sheffield man killed on a smart motorway has called for Highways England to face a ‘criminal investigation’ after MPs ruled their use should be stopped.
A parliamentary report found some of the deaths of the eight people killed on all lane running motorways, which have no hard shoulder,’ could have been avoided’ with the use of technology to detect stationary vehicles.
Claire Mercer’s husband Jason, 44, was one of two people killed on a section of ALR motorway in Sheffield.
Jason and 22-year-old Alexandru Murgreanu, from Mansfield, were killed when they were knocked down by a lorry shortly after the pair was involved in a minor collision near junction 34 of the M1 at Meadowhall.
The pair had pulled over to the roadside as far as they could, but the lane was not closed to traffic until six minutes after the collision which happened on June 7 last year.
Claire said: “It was only after Jason’s death when I started looking into what smart motorways were the various types that are in operation that I started to understand what they are.
“Ever since then I have been adamant that they are confusing, extremely dangerous and kill. To now hear that some of those deaths, possibly including Jason’s could have been avoided if promises had been kept is absolutely staggering.
“I’m almost lost for words as to how this could have been allowed to happen. Highways England should be made to explain its actions or lack of action and the police should investigate the agency for corporate manslaughter.
“However, this is not about punishing people. It’s about stopping the use of smart motorways before they are more deaths and other families are left trying to pick up the pieces of losing a loved one in such a needless way.”
A Highways England spokesperson said: “Any death on our roads is one too many, and our deepest sympathies remain with the family and friends of those who lost their lives.
“The Transport Secretary has asked the Department for Transport to carry out, at pace, an evidence stocktake to gather the facts about smart motorway safety.”