Widow of smart motorway crash victim killed near Sheffield launches bid to fund legal battle to close them down

The widow of a man killed in a collision on the M1 smart motorway near Sheffield has launched a fundraising campaign to fund a legal battle to try to close them down.

Thursday, 19th September 2019, 2:03 pm
Updated Friday, 20th September 2019, 11:06 am
Claire and Jason Mercer
Claire and Jason Mercer

Jason Mercer, aged 44, died in a crash on the M1 near Meadowhall, in June.

He and 22-year-old fellow motorist, Alexandru Murgeanu, from Mansfield, were exchanging details after a collision when they were struck by a lorry.

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The two men had pulled over on the northbound stretch between Junction 34 for Meadowhall and 35 for Thorpe Hesley when tragedy struck.

The HGV driver was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and was bailed pending further enquiries.

Mr Mercer’s wife, Claire, 43, is suing he Highways Agency for corporate manslaughter, claiming the government-run company does not have adequate technology to detect stranded vehicles and divert traffic on stretches of motorways where hard shoulders have been turned into extra lanes to reduce congestion.

Her husband was one of four people die on the same 16-mile stretch of the M1 smart motorway in 10 months.

Mrs Mercer is calling for smart motorways to be scrapped and has launched an online crowdfunding appeal to help fund her legal battle.

She wants a judicial review into the decision to introduce them.

Appealing initially for £2,000, Mrs Mercer said: “With my family as a campaign team and an army of people who feel as strongly as we do about the dangers of smart motorways we are calling for an immediate halt to them, particularly all lane running motorways, where there is never a hard shoulder. To do this we need a judicial review of the decision to bring them in.

“We can't bring this legal action alone. If you believe smart motorways are dangerous please contribute whatever you can.”

She added: “Jason and Alexandru had a minor collision on the M1. In order to assess damage and swap details, they pulled over as far to the left side of the motorway as they could, but were limited by barriers and bankings.

“Because this section of motorway is all lane running there was no hard shoulder and they were not to know the nearest emergency refuge area was out of sight, a mile away.“The technology provided on 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 after they were killed by a HGV six minutes later.

“Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident, four people have now died on just this stretch of motorway in the last 10 months.

“The horrific truth of just how dangerous so-called smart motorways are is only now starting to come out.”

Mrs Mercer added: “We need a judicial review of the decision to allow smart motorways to be brought in.

"Judicial review is the process by which judges examine the decisions of public bodies and consider whether the law has been correctly followed.

“We need your help to fund the legal fight to stop more people dying or being injured for the sake of budgets, income generated by penalty fines and spreadsheets showing formulas of cost against those killed and seriously injured.

“We need to raise approximately £2,000 initially to start the paperwork and application for a judicial review and a total of £20,000 to take the fight all the way to court. The sooner we can start, the sooner we can show we are serious.”She continued: “Jason was an amazing, multi-faceted man who stood out in a crowd.

“He believed in equality and he fought to defend his and other rights, he loved all types of music from classical to heavy metal. He worked hard, drank knowledge in like a sponge and defined his worth by his ability to look after me and others.

“My family, his sister’s family and I have lost an absolute diamond, in the cruellest manner. 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.”

Click HERE to donate.