Smart motorways: Anger over review delay

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Jason and Clare Mercer
Image caption,
Claire Mercer said her husband's death had "shattered" her life

Families of people who have died on smart motorways have criticised the government for delays into a review looking at safety concerns.

The review was announced in October by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who said recommendations would be made in "a matter of weeks".

Claire Mercer, whose husband Jason was killed on the M1, said it was taking a "ludicrous" amount of time.

The Department for Transport said it expected to conclude its work shortly.

Thirty-eight people have been killed on smart motorways across the country in the past five years.

Mr Mercer, 44, had pulled over to exchange details after a minor collision with another motorist where the hard shoulder is now an active lane.

Both men were killed when an HGV hit them near junction 34 at Meadowhall in South Yorkshire in June.

Image source, Gov.uk
Image caption,
Some smart motorways use the hard shoulder at all times while others use it during busy times

Ms Mercer, from Rotherham, said his death had "shattered" her life.

"After he died, I was very, very ill and had to be put on strong medication just to stop me shaking."

She has since spearheaded a campaign group called Smart Motorways Kill and is in the process of bringing a High Court legal challenge calling for them to be scrapped.

Her efforts are being backed by the family of Nargis Bashir, who was also killed on the M1 in South Yorkshire.

Mrs Bashir, 62, from Darnall, Sheffield, died near Woodall services in September 2018 after she and her husband had broken down in a live lane.

Image caption,
Saima Akhtar says the government needs to take urgent action

Daughter Saima Akhtar said: "What we've lost is indescribable. Mum was the bedrock. She held the family together."

She said the government needed to take "urgent action" so other families did not have to endure the same nightmare.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said the "evidence stocktake... had been gathering facts on the safety of smart motorways in order to make recommendations".

The spokesperson added: "We owe it to those families to do this as thoroughly and as quickly as we can, and we expect to conclude this work and announce the outcome shortly."

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