Coroner warns smart motorways present an 'ongoing risk of deaths' after demanding a review

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Coroner warns smart motorways present an 'ongoing risk of deaths' after demanding a review

Sheffield coroner David Urpeth confirmed the lack of a hard shoulder on a stretch of M1 in South Yorkshire contributed to the deaths of Jason Merce

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Sheffield coroner David Urpeth confirmed the lack of a hard shoulder on a stretch of M1 in South Yorkshire contributed to the deaths of Jason Mercer and Alexandru Murgeanu. In a verdict of unlawful killing, the corner explained the loss of a hard shoulder had “contributed to this tragedy”.

He said: “If there had been a hard shoulder on this bit of motorway, the collision would have been avoidable.

“I would have driven past these two cars as it would be safer and they would have been able to come home safely and I would be able to come home.”

Sergeant Mark Brady, from major collision investigations for Yorkshire Police also revealed the collision may not have ever happened had a hard shoulder been in place.

He said: “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.”

Mr Mercer’s widow Claire has actively campaigned for safer motorways since her husband was killed.

She has since claimed Szuba was the wrong person to be jailed over the incident and had called for Highways England to be investigated by the police over the issue.

Her campaign, Smart Motorways Kill has called for a judicial review alongside others who have lost relatives on the roads.

She said: “Somebody has listened and finally taken steps to address the use of these death trap roads.

“We have taken a first step today to protecting the lives of others.”

A total of 38 people have been killed on smart motorways over the past five years.

In a statement, Highways England said it was “determined” to do everything it could to make the roads as safe as possible.

They said they were already addressing many of the points raised by the coroner and would “carefully consider” any further comments.



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