Two more die in horrific crash on smart motorway on M1 junction

The vehicle, carrying two men aged 20 and 22, hit a barrier before smashing into trees. The two died at the scene and South Yorkshire Police are appealing for anyone with dashcam footage of the crash to make contact. Concerns have been raised that the fatal collision occurred on a stretch of smart motorway where there have already been fatalities. Smart motorways use technology to maintain the flow of traffic and give information on overhead displays.

Hard shoulders can become driving lanes at peak congestion times, or on a permanent basis.

Jason Mercer, died aged 44 on the same stretch of motorway in 2019. He was struck by a lorry after a minor collision on the hard shoulder – which was being used as an active lane – forced him to stop.

The driver of the other car, Alexandru Murgeanu, 22, was also killed.

Last night Jason’s campaigning widow, Claire, asked: “How many more have to die?”

She is calling for Highways England to be prosecuted for corporate manslaughter.

Claire said: “There are currently four official bodies conducting reviews into smart motorways.

“When something is already known to be dangerous but it is still allowed to operate, and then when people die, how is that not murder?”

The deaths of her husband and Mr Murgeanu occurred a few months after 83-year-old Derek Jacobs died on the same stretch of motorway.

He pulled into the left hand lane when his car developed a mechanical fault but was struck by another car, which was then hit by a coach.

In September 2018, 62-year-old Nargis Begum died on the verge at the side of the motorway when another vehicle collided with their stranded Nissan, causing it to plough into her.

Claire and Mrs Begum’s family have since joined forces in a campaign to have the controversial smart motorway system scrapped.

In February, MPs launched an investigation into their safety.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps recommended a review after analysis found less than five per cent of England’s 500-mile network of smart motorways has technology to detect breakdowns in active lanes.

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