Smart motorway activist whose husband was killed on road fears safety watchdog ‘just lip service’

A widow calling for an end to smart motorways fears a new independent body set up to investigate road safety is “just lip service”.

Claire Mercer, 45, whose husband was killed on a smart motorway in 2019, said campaigners like her wanted to see action rather than more recommendations and reports.

The Road Safety Investigation Branch (RSIB), launched by the Department for Transport, will examine collisions on all types of UK roads, looking into how and why they happened and giving recommendations on how to prevent future incidents.

One of the issues the body could choose to look into is accidents on smart motorways, which included 38 fatalities between 2015 and 2019, according to BBC’s Panorama.

Among those killed was Mrs Mercer’s husband, Jason, 44, after he pulled over on a stretch of the M1 near Sheffield following a minor collision with another driver.

With no emergency refuge area near by, they were forced to wait in a live lane. Shortly afterwards, a lorry driver crashed into their vehicles while changing lanes, killing both men.

Mrs Mercer said that, in the three and a half years since his death, there had been 25 different reviews or reports looking into smart motorways pointing out the risks – including three by the Parliamentary Select Committee – but they had still not been banned.

“The problem is that none of these bodies or organisations can do anything except recommend,” she told i. “We’ve got lots of people recommending, we’ve got lots of people talking about this – we need someone to actually do.

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