Father-of-one who 'can't sleep' after M6 smart motorway crash says rollout pause is not enough

Video report by ITV Granada Reports' correspondent Tim Scott.

A father-of-one who was left seriously injured after a lorry ploughed into his van on a smart motorway near Preston says the trauma has left him unable to sleep at night.

Ben French, 28, was pulled from the wreckage alive but suffered multiple injuries including a fractured pelvis and collarbone, punctured lung and broken rib.

The electrician says smart motorways are "killing people" and has urged the government to stop their use completely.

His comments come as the government announced the rollout of “all-lane-running” smart motorways is to be paused amid safety concerns. Critics say the move does not go far enough.

In a message to the government, Ben, of Cheslyn Hay, Staffordshire, said: "You're endangering people's lives. Apply a bit of common sense.

"They are not safe at all. A lot of people won't touch the motorways now because of your actions."

Ben had been driving home after a work trip to Preston when he had a tyre blow-out near junction 17 of the M6.

He pulled over on the inside lane because there was no hard shoulder and was struck from behind by a lorry.

After months of psychotherapy, Ben says he is still "not 100% recovered" and replays the moment in his head every time he drives.

He said: "My health is a lot better now but mentally, the trauma, I can't sleep at night.

"It's because I'm always on the road as well, it's always on my mind."

Protest against smart motorways in London. Credit: PA

Smart motorways that are already in operation will continue to be used and those which are currently being built will be completed.

The government have pledged to improve safety on existing all-lane-running motorways, with extra emergency refuge areas and technology to identify stopped vehicles added where possible.

The Department of Transport say they are committing £900 million to upgrade them, including £390 million to install 150 more emergency areas, representing around a 50% increase in places for motorists to stop if they get into difficulty over the next three years.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “While our initial data shows that smart motorways are among the safest roads in the UK, it’s crucial that we go further to ensure people feel safer using them.

“Pausing schemes yet to start construction and making multimillion-pound improvements to existing schemes will give drivers confidence and provide the data we need to inform our next steps.”

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.

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