Call for Government to Ban Smart Motorways Following Coroner’s Verdict

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner has reacted to the coroner’s verdict on the death of Jason Mercer and Alexandru Murgeanu on the smart motorway section of the M1 on 7 June 2019.

Dr Billings said: “Exactly a year ago I wrote in a local newspaper that the smart motorway on the M1 was anything but smart.

“As long as it remained in place it was a constant danger to anyone unfortunate enough either to break down in it or to be travelling along it when another vehicle had broken down.

“I therefore welcome the finding of the Sheffield coroner, David Urpeth, into the deaths of Jason Mercer and Alexandru Murgeanu, that the lack of a hard shoulder contributed to their deaths.

“I also welcome his decision to write to Highways England and to the Secretary of State.

I believe that the coroner’s comments will enable Claire Mercer, Jason Mercer’s widow, to see a successful end to her campaign to have these types of motorway banned.

“I will offer Claire Mercer any help I can in her tireless campaigning.

“Highways England, and the Secretary of State, Grant Shapps, have always argued that these types of motorway, where the hard shoulder is a live lane, are ‘safer’ than motorways with hard shoulders.

“I wrote a year ago that the arguments they used were flawed.

“We should not be comparing statistics for deaths on different types of motorway.

What we should have looked at was what happened when people were killed on a smart motorway and what would have happened if that motorway had had a hard shoulder.

“The coroner did just this and he must now be listened to by Highways England and the government.

“And they must do this with urgency because as long as this type of smart motorway remains the travelling public are always in danger.”


Photo courtesy of Rotherham Advertiser