Legal challenge to ban smart motorways launched after death of Mansfield man on M1

A legal challenge has been launched to ban 'smart motorways’ after a Mansfield man died on a stretch of the M1 with no hard shoulder.

Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 2:30 pm

Alexandru Murgreanu, aged 22, was one of two men killed in June last year after they were involved in a minor collision near junction 34 of the M1 near Meadowhall.

Alexandru and the other man, 44-year-old Jason Mercer, from Rotherham, got out of their vehicles to exchange details, but were hit by a lorry and fatally wounded.

The stretch of road on which they were killed is classed as an ‘all lanes running’ (ALR) motorway, meaning there is no hard shoulder in operation.

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Jason and Claire Mercer.

Now, Jason’s widow has instructed solicitors Irwin Mitchell to investigate bringing a legal case against Highways England to halt the use of ALR and smart motorways.

Claire Mercer, 43, said: “Anyone can be involved in a collision or anyone can break down. Sometimes these are just unavoidable. Each time you travel on an ALR it’s like playing Russian roulette with your life. You could be the best driver in the world but if you break down you’re just a sitting duck.

“The technology provided in this stretch of motorway and indeed in over 80 per cent of all 'smart motorways' is not capable of detecting when only a few cars stop in live lanes, so the lane wasn't closed until six minutes after Jason and Alexandru had been knocked down.”

To help fund her legal challenge, Claire has launched a crowdfunding appeal and is hoping to raise £20,000.

Alexandru Murgeanu

“The only thing that helps us while we try to come to terms with this loss, is trying to stop the same happening to others,” she said.

“I cannot thank enough those who have supported the campaign. It has made a real difference and increased our belief that the use of smart motorways should be stopped.”

Last year a total of nine people died on the smart motorway network, including five fatalities in 10 months on the M1 near Sheffield.

After he died, Alexandru's sister paid tribute to him as ‘a boy with many plans'.

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