What happened to Claire Mercer's husband Jason on a smart motorway?

CLAIRE Mercer has campaigned for smart motorways to be scrapped after her husband died on one stretch of the M1.

The widow, from Rotherham, previously called them “death-traps” as a Government enquiry found that dozers of fatalities had been linked to the new roads.

What happened to Claire Mercer's husband Jason on a smart motorway?

Clair’s husband Jason Mercer was killed alongside Alexandru Murgeanu, 22, when an 18-tonne HGV driver smashed into them on June 7, 2019.

The pair had pulled over at 8:15 am with no hard shoulder after a minor collision.

It understood that they had parked against the crash barrier, got out of their vehicles and were swapping insurance details when a lorry hurtled towards them.

The driver and Alexandru were killed instantly.

A year later, in 2020, Szuba, a Romanian national, was jailed for 10 months after admitting two counts of causing death by driving without due care and attention at Sheffield Crown Court.

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The court had found, at the time of the 56mph smash, that Mr Mercer and Mr Murgeanu were standing between their two vehicles.

Evidence supplied showed that 147 vehicles passed the scene safely before Szuba, a dad-of-one, approached northbound.

Dash cam footage from the cab of his lorry played in court captured the moment the driver slammed into the two stationary vehicles.

The court later heard there was a 'safe refuge area', an area motorists can pull into in case of emergency, located around a mile from where the victims stopped.

What has Claire Mercer said?

But, prior to his sentence, Calir Mercer said that “correct person” was not taking “responsibility” for the death of her husband.

She instead blamed Highways England – accusing the body of only thinking about “the next big contract” rather than the safety of motorists.

Mrs Mercer told the court: “We don't believe the correct person is taking responsibility for this massive detrimental effect on ours and so many other people's lives.

"The events of June 7 would not have taken place if there had been a hard shoulder and Highways England was run with the correct priorities in mind, not concentrating on who wins the next big contract.

"My hope in this devastation is that no more lives are ruined needlessly."

Since her husband's death Mrs Mercer has reportedly set up a campaign group called Smart Motorways Kill.

During an interview in 2020 she said the group has four different legal actions in process and that they "won't stop until smart motorways are banned".

In a piece for The Sun Mrs Mercer, also stated her intentions to have smart motorways scrapped so that no one else has to "have that awful knock on  the door".

How many people have died on a smart motorway?

Following a government body enquiry, officials found that at least 24 broken-down drivers or passengers had died on smart motorways since 2015.

It prompted an announcement from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who confirmed that any future plans for the roads would be scrapped until he had another five years of stats.

The new change in stance means that tech to spot stranded cars will be tested more rigorously.

Meanwhile, ministers will look into reintroducing hard shoulders on all motorways through the night.

Mr Shapps said: “Initial data shows smart motorways are among our safest roads but it’s crucial we go further to ensure people feel safer using them.”

Committee chair Huw Merriman stressed: “It is important this extra time is spent on ­making these motorways safer — not just on evaluation.”

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