Letter warning of growing anxieties around smart motorways

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner has this week continued to raise concerns around the safety of smart motorways by writing to the Transport Select Committee urging them to listen to growing anxieties within South Yorkshire.

Saturday, 6th March 2021, 2:05 pm

The Transport Select Committee launched an inquiry this week to look at the safety of smart motorways and public confidence in their use as well as their impact on congestion.

The letter from Dr Billings reiterated his grave concerns and urged the MPs to hear what he and others in South Yorkshire are saying.

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Anxiety over smart motorway

He states: “We do not believe we are being listened to or having our concerns adequately addressed by either the Department of Transport or Highways England.

“Our anxieties have increased following the comments of two coroners charged with conducting inquests into the deaths of three people whose vehicles were struck while stationary on the motorway. One coroner, as you will know, has concluded that the lack of a hard shoulder contributed towards the deaths of Jason Mercer and Alexandru Murgeanu and the other has asked South Yorkshire police to consider whether the death of Nardis Begum warrants corporate manslaughter charges being brought against Highways England.

“Whatever follows from these actions, the very fact that the coroners are saying these things causes us deep concerns.

“It remains my view that if a vehicle, for whatever reason, stops in a live lane because there is no hard shoulder and a refuge is too far away, this is inherently dangerous. It builds danger into the motorway when we should be designing danger out.”

There have been three deaths and other serious accidents on the stretch of motorway in South Yorkshire since 2018.

Nationally there have been 30 fatalities on smart motorways between 2017 and 2019.

A copy of the letter in full can be viewed here: Letter to Transport Committee – SMART Motorways

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.