Woman whose husband died in Sheffield smart motorway crash to appear in TV documentary tonight

The widow of a man killed in a ‘smart’ motorway crash near Sheffield is to call for a ban on the controversial road schemes in a TV documentary tonight.

Monday, 20th January 2020, 9:14 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 2:18 pm

Claire Mercer’s husband Jason, 44, from Rotherham and Alexandru Murgeanu, 22, from Mansfield, both died last June when they were hit by a lorry after pulling over following a collision on the northbound M1 between Junction 34 for Meadowhall and 35 for Thorpe Hesley.

Tonight, she will tell the BBC’s Inside Out programme how she wants a stop to the hard shoulder being turned into a normal lane on the country’s motorways.

She said: “I want smart motorways stopped.

Claire and Jason Mercer.

“It's akin to manslaughter to remove the hard shoulder. I'm absolutely terrified that the next occasion is going to involve a coachload of children.”

She is planning to sue the Highways Agency over her husband's death and the programme will also reveal how breakdown firm The AA also says that smart motorways are dangerous.

Tony Rich, a former AA patrolman of the year, said: 'We'll contact the customer to say 'we can't stop where you are'. We will contact Highways England, go to a safe area and wait for the vehicle to be delivered.'

The Department of Transport says it is publishing a review into smart motorway technology within the coming weeks. Highways England said it is committed to safety and is supporting the department in its work on the schemes.

Mr Mercer and Mr Murgeanu were among four people to die on the same 16-mile stretch of the M1 in 10 months.

Last September a 62-year-old woman was killed when a broken down Nissan Qashqai she was a passenger in was involved in a collision with a black Mercedes E-class.

In March, Derek Jacobs, 83, was killed when his Volkswagen Crafter stopped in the first lane of the northbound M1 in Derbyshire after getting a puncture. His vehicle was struck by a coach and the retired engineer was crushed against a barrier.

The BBC's documentary is broadcast at 7.30pm tonight on the Inside Out regional news magazine programme in the North West but will be available to watch in the Yorkshire region on BBC iPlayer.