Wife of South Yorkshire man killed on M1 launches legal challenge to scrap smart motorways

The wife of a South Yorkshire man who was killed on a section of the M1 with no hard shoulder is mounting a legal challenge to have so-called ‘smart motorways’ scrapped.

Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 5:00 pm

Jason Mercer was one of two men killed in June last year after they were involved in a minor collision near junction 34 of the M1 near Meadowhall.

Jason and the other man, 22-year-old Alexandru Murgreanu, from Mansfield, got out of their vehicles to exchange details, but were hit by a lorry and fatally wounded.

The stretch of road on which they were killed is classed as an ‘all lanes running’ (ALR) motorway, meaning there is no hard shoulder in operation.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Jason and Claire Mercer.

Now, Jason’s widow has instructed solicitors Irwin Mitchell to investigate bringing a legal case against Highways England to halt the use of ALR and smart motorways.

Claire, 43, from Broom, Rotherham, said: “Anyone can be involved in a collision or anyone can break down. Sometimes these are just unavoidable. Each time you travel on an ALR it’s like playing Russian roulette with your life.

“You could be the best driver in the world but if you break down you’re just a sitting duck.

“The technology provided in this stretch of motorway and indeed in over 80 per cent of all 'smart motorways' is not capable of detecting when only a few cars stop in live lanes, so the lane wasn't closed until six minutes after Jason and Alexandru had been knocked down.”

Last year a total of nine people died on the smart motorway network, including five fatalities in 10 months on the M1 near Sheffield.

To help fund her legal challenge, Claire has launched a crowdfunding appeal and is hoping to raise £20,000.

“The only thing that helps us while we try to come to terms with this loss, is trying to stop the same happening to others,” she said.

“I cannot thank enough those who have supported the campaign. It has made a real difference and increased our belief that the use of smart motorways should be stopped.”

For more information or to donate, visit https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/smart-motorway-jr.