Sheffield widow and campaigner calls for end to smart motorway rollout after MPs agree pause

A woman whose husband was killed on the M1 near Sheffield in 2019 is demanding the rollout of smart motorways be scrapped.

Claire Mercer's comments come after the Transport Committee called for all-lane running motorways to be paused until five years of safety data and improvements have been delivered.

While she welcomes the recommendation, she says motorways will not be safe until the hard shoulder is permanently reinstalled.

Claire's husband Jason died on the M1 near Sheffield in 2019. Credit: Claire Mercer

Her husband Jason had been involved in a minor collision and had stopped along with the other vehicle when he was hit by a lorry. A coroner concluded that a lack of hard shoulder contributed to his death.

Just yesterday (1 November), Claire led around 40 demonstrators in a dramatic protest carrying coffins across London's Westminster Bridge to represent deaths on smart motorways.

Around 40 demonstrators took part in the protest. Credit: PA Images

Meanwhile Rotherham MP Sarah Champion says enough is enough, and the government needs to act now.

Smart motorways are used as a cheaper way of increasing capacity. Credit: PA

Smart motorways were first introduced in England in 2014 as a cheaper way of increasing capacity compared with widening carriageways.

There are about 375 miles of smart motorway in England, including 235 miles without a hard shoulder.

An additional 300 miles are scheduled to be opened by 2025.

The Department for Transport says it is committed to making them as safe as possible, and that £500m will be spent on upgrades.