The Daily Telegraph

Death of woman blamed on smart motorway

- By Phoebe Southworth

THE lack of a hard shoulder on a smart motorway contribute­d to the death of a grandmothe­r, a coroner has ruled.

Nargis Begum, 62, was killed when her car broke down on a section of the M1 in South Yorkshire.

The mother of five and grandmothe­r of nine was outside the vehicle on the inside lane of the motorway when she was hit by her car, which was propelled into her by a lorry, near Woodall services in September 2018.

Despite Mrs Begum being stranded for 16 minutes and 21 seconds before the collision, Highways England, which has since rebranded as National Highways, failed to spot the breakdown so the lane could be closed to traffic.

A total of 153 vehicles passed Mrs Begum’s car before the crash. Senior Coroner Nicola Mundy recorded her death as due to a road traffic collision.

She told Doncaster Coroner’s Court yesterday: “The absence of a hard shoulder

‘Mrs Begum was waiting by her broken down car on the M1 when it was propelled into the air by a lorry’

and the absence of any report to National Highways to notify them of the stationary vehicle so that lane closures could be put in place both contribute­d to Mrs Begum’s death.”

Mrs Begum was being driven by her husband, Mohammed Bashir, who survived. They were travelling from Derby to Sheffield in their daughter’s car after paying a visit to friends.

Mr Bashir, a taxi driver, said his wife was unable to get over the safety barrier after their car lost power and he was forced to pull into the far left lane.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “The conclusion that the absence of a hard shoulder and the absence of any drivers telling National Highways about the stationary vehicle, both contribute­d to Mrs Begum’s death, surely calls into question the whole concept of ‘smart’ motorways.

“Roads should not be designed with the lives of drivers dependent on other drivers reporting a breakdown in a live lane.

“The inquest heard that corners were cut in the engineerin­g of this stretch of motorway with no stopped vehicle detection in place and not enough emergency refuge areas.” A coroner previously concluded that the roads “present an ongoing risk of deaths”.

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