Smart Motorways – Calls for review by Coroner
Smart Motorways – CORONER CALLS FOR A REVIEW OF SMART MOTORWAYS
DEATHS ON THE M1 AND CORONER CALLS FOR A REVIEW OF SMART MOTORWAYS TWO MEN WHO HAD STOPPED ON A SMART SECTION OF THE M1, WERE KILLED WHEN A LORRY PLOUGHED INTO THEIR VEHICLES.
Smart motorways are again in the frame after a fatal crash on the M1 in June 2019, has caused the coroner to call for a review of smart motorways after the inquest into the two men’s deaths.
The two men had had a minor prang on the motorway, between Mr Mercer’s Ford Focus and Mr Murgeanu’s Ford transit and pulled over to exchange details. With the smart section of the M1 on which they were travelling having no hard shoulder as it had been replaced by an active lane, they had no option but to stop in the slow lane and while they were exchanging details they were both killed by a lorry travelling along the same motorway lane which failed to see them and stop in time.
After a thorough examination of the circumstances, the coroner, Mr Urpeth recorded a verdict of unlawful killing, saying that smart motorways without a hard shoulder carried “an ongoing risk of future deaths” and that he would be writing to the transport secretary to ask for a review. The inquest was told that had there been a hard shoulder, the deaths of the two men may have been avoided.
The officer who oversees major collision investigations for the South Yorks Police stated at the hearing that he believed that: “Had there been a hard shoulder, had Jason and Alexandru pulled on to the hard shoulder, my opinion is that Mr Szuba would have driven clean past them.” Although he accepted that the lorry driver’s inattention was also a contributory factor.
Highways England says that it is “addressing many of the points raised” and is “determined” to do everything it can to make roads as safe as possible and is addressing many of the coroner’s points already “as published in the Government’s Smart Motorway Evidence Stocktake and Action Plan of March 2020”.
This is such a very sad story and it seems could have had a different outcome. We have written about the roll out of smart motorways
before and feel that the examination of their safety is particularly relevant to motorcyclists who, if they have to stop on a smart motorway with no hard shoulder, do not even have the protection of a vehicle if oncoming traffic fails to see them and stop.
What are your thoughts? Do you believe the smart motorway technology will save you in the event of a crash or would you prefer to have a hard shoulder on all motorways?