Smart motorways under review after deaths
A REVIEW INTO the safety of Britain’s smart motorway network has been called for, after a coroner ruled that the deaths of two men involved in a lorry crash in 2019 could have been avoided.
Coroner David Urpeth said such road layouts – typically featuring variable speed limits and hard shoulder running at busy times – present “an ongoing risk of future deaths”. He is writing to both Highways England and transport secretary Grant Shapps to request a review into their use.
Jason Mercer and Alexandru Murgeanu were killed in June 2019 when a lorry crashed into their stationary cars on a stretch of the M1 that had been converted into a smart motorway and had no hard shoulder active. An inquest heard that had a hard shoulder been in place, the incident could have been avoided.
The driver of the lorry was jailed last year for causing death by careless driving.
The Government announced in November last year that it was planning to build nine new smart motorway sections, but it also agreed to 18 new safety measures, including the removal of ‘dynamic’ hard shoulders and a commitment to rescuing stranded drivers within 10 minutes of their car stopping.