'Smart motorways kill' widow of man killed on on road with no hard-shoulder tells LBC

20 October 2020, 10:07 | Updated: 20 October 2020, 10:09

Smart motorway campaigner tells Nick why they are not safe enough

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The widow of man who was killed when a lorry ploughed into his stranded car on a smart motorway has said the wrong person has been jailed, after the truck driver was given a 10-month long sentence.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari Claire Mercer, who has led a prominent campaign against smart motorways, said her campaign was really "getting the message out there."

She said many drivers were not aware of the concept and they were brought in through the backdoor.

Now Claire is campaigning for a Judicial Review into the introduction of smart motorways.

Claire told LBC that "every single driver is capable of a few minutes of distraction that is why we had hard shoulders."

You can find more details about the campaign here.

Nick Ferrari: Why smart motorways must be stopped immediately

Jason Mercer, 44, and Alexandru Murgeanu, 22, died when a lorry driven by Prezemyslaw Szuba, 40, crashed into their vehicles, which had stopped on a stretch of the M1 without a hard shoulder after a "minor shunt".

Szuba was jailed on Monday at Sheffield Crown Court by a judge who compared motorway hard shoulders with lifeboats on ships, but added that Szuba had to take the major part of the blame for the crash.

Imposing the prison term for causing the deaths by careless driving, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC said: "Had there been a hard shoulder, or had the victims driven on for another mile to the refuge, this catastrophe would never have occurred."

But he added: "There must be no doubt, however, that the main cause of this fatal crash was your inattention to the road ahead of you."

Speaking outside court, Claire Mercer, said: "We don't believe the correct person is taking responsibility for this massive detrimental effect on ours and so many other people's lives.

"The events of June 7, 2019, would not have taken place if there had been a hard shoulder and Highways England was run with the correct priorities in mind - not concentrating on who wins the next big contract."

Referring to a national review of smart motorways, she said: "An agenda genuinely concerned with avoiding future deaths is not served by a pretend review and 18 compromises that wouldn't have saved any of 40-plus people killed by smart motorways, or by jailing the wrong person."

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