Smart motorways: South Yorkshire Motorcycle Action Group backs Claire Mercer campaign to restore hard shoulder

South Yorkshire motorcyclists have backed the campaign to restore the hard shoulder across Britain’s motorways.

Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 12:36 pm

South Yorkshire Motorcycle Action Group pledged support for Claire Mercer and the Smart Motorways Kill campaign after Mrs Mercer, from Rotherham, attended their January meeting to talk with them about the issue.

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Mrs Mercer’s husband Jason died on a stretch of ‘smart motorway’ near Sheffield in 2019, and she blames the system for his death. At the inquest into his death, coroner David Urpeth said smart motorways without a hard shoulder carry "an ongoing risk of future deaths.”

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South Yorkshire motorcyclists have backed the campaign to restore the hard shoulder across Britain’s motorways after meeting campaigner Claire Mercer

Smart motorways have traffic running in all lanes, and use gantry signs to close a lane if a car breaks down.

South Yorkshire Motorcycle Action Group spokesman Stuart Hatfield said: “We came away with a great feel for her efforts and aims of the campaign and believe more than ever that our support and that of other organisations and groups is a step in the right direction.

“Although the percentage of incidents involving motorcycles is low at this moment in time, we believe it is an issue much larger than just any one motoring interest group and impacts us all as road users. Over 90 percent of MAG members drive cars, vans and also a large number of our members are HGV drivers.

‘M1 around South Yorkshire a hotspot for incidents’

“The M1 around South Yorkshire has been a particular hotspot for incidents since the inception and I have personally seen vehicles stranded on the live motorway unable to reach refuge between junctions 33 and 32.

“It is frustrating when the transport minister Mr Grant Shapps quotes statistics knowing that behind each one of them is a human tragedy which need never have happened and pushed on with the smart motorway programme regardless.”

He said he welcomed the Government’s announcement that the roll out of new smart motorways will be suspended for the next five years of research to assess their safety but feel that they have come up short by not reinstating the hard shoulder

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said of the roll-out of smart motorways earlier this month: “Pausing schemes yet to start construction and making multi-million pound improvements to existing schemes will give drivers confidence and provide the data we need to inform our next steps.”

ORIGINAL GOVERNMENT REPORT: Rollout and safety of smart motorways