Coroner’s Comments Lead PCC to Urge Government Rethink on Smart Motorways

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner says the government will have to think again over smart motorways in light of a second coroner’s comments.

In January Dr Billings wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, following comments the coroner made at the conclusion of the inquest into the deaths of Jason Mercer and Alexandru Murgeanu. A reply to this letter is yet to be received.

The two men had been killed on the motorway and the coroner concluded that the lack of a hard shoulder had contributed towards their deaths.

Dr Billings argued that these motorways where the hard shoulder was a live lane, were inherently unsafe. He urged the minister to abandon these type of motorway.

Now a second coroner, Nicola Mundy, commenting on the death of Nargis Begum who was killed when her car also broke down in a live running lane on the motorway, has asked the Crown Prosecution Service to consider possible manslaughter charges against Highways England.

Dr Billings said: “This is now the second time a coroner has raised doubts about the safety of these so-called smart motorways.

“The evidence is mounting all the time that something is seriously wrong about these types of motorway with all running lanes.

“Highways England and the Department argue that these motorways are as safe if not safer than conventional motorways. I believe the way this case is made is deeply flawed and should be scrapped.

“Instead, they must give weight to the comments of the coroners and those of us who see the risks on a daily basis.

“They must act before there are any further unnecessary deaths or serious injuries.”