Smart Motorway protesters to carry 38 coffins to Parliament

Protesters are set to carry 38 coffins across London to The Department for Transport, to demand that smart motorways are scrapped.

Monday, 25th October 2021, 4:00 pm

The protest has been organised by Claire Mercer, widow of Jason Mercer, who died on the M1 in 2019 when he was struck by a lorry in a collision which also saw Mansfield man Alexandru Murgeanu killed.

Protesters will carry the coffins from the London Eye to Parliament Square, then on the Department for Transport’s headquarters on Horseferry Road.

Mrs Mercer says the 38 coffins will represent the number of deaths accepted by the government due to Smart Motorways, from 2014-2019 – but says the actual toll is much higher.

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Jason Mercer, left, and Alexandru Murgeanu died on the M1 smart motorway near Sheffield in June 2019.

Mrs Mercer says the protest on November 1 is to draw attention to the deaths caused by Smart Motorways, which she has been campaigning for for the last two years.

“I started with legal action, the judicial review, and that’s still going on it’s just taking so long,” she said.

“Slowly, people are becoming more aware of the dangers of smart motorways, even slower, the government are accepting there are issues.”

In September, the results of a government report into accident blackspots on smart motorways found that the number of serious or fatal injury collisions have increased on the South Yorkshire stretch of the M1 – but only one new emergency refuge will be installed on the Derbyshire border.

Mrs Mercer, however, says emergency refuges are ‘not the answer’, and has urged the government to scrap smart motorways altogether.

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Mrs Mercer said: “When did we get to the point where we review safety after [smart motorways] have been running for years?.

“There is obviously a very big problem, and they’re just masking it.

“It’s not good enough, more and more people are going to die, and what worries me is that it will be a coach full of children.”

A coach is heading to the protest from Rotherham and Sheffield and places are still available – see

Mr Murgeanu, aged 22, and 44-year-old Mr Mercer died when a lorry driven by Prezemyslaw Szuba crashed into their vehicles after they stopped on a stretch of the M1 near Sheffield without a hard shoulder.

Szuba, 40, from Hull, was jailed for 10 months in October 2020 after admitting causing their deaths by careless driving.

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