Smart motorway death widow says driver should not be jailed

The widow of a man killed in a crash on a smart motorway is urging the judge in the case not to jail the man who admitted causing the death.

The Sunday Telegraph reported that Claire Mercer will use her victim impact statement to blame Highways England because of the removal of hard shoulders on that stretch of the M1.

40 year old Prezemyslaw Zbigniew Szuba has admitted two counts of causing death by driving without due care and attention after his 18-tonne lorry hit the stationary vehicles Jason Mercer, 44, and Alexandru Murgeanu, 22, had been driving on the M1. The pair had been swapping details after a minor prang when they were hit but did not go to an emergency refuge area.

The report says 44 year old Mrs Mercer will say Highways England must take responsibility for the rising death toll on smart motorways. “I remain convinced Highways England’s decision to remove the hard shoulder put my husband and Alex Murgeanu’s lives in peril,” she told the Sunday Telegraph. “If there had been a hard shoulder they would both be alive today.

“There still has been no television information campaign to inform people of what to do in the event of an accident, let alone explain what smart motorways are. 

“People are learning about smart motorways because of the publicity surrounding those who die when they breakdown without the safe haven of the hard shoulder.”

Mrs Mercer, from Rotherham, is seeking a judicial review into smart motorways, as well as trying to prosecute Highways England for corporate manslaughter.

A Highways England spokesman told the paper, “Any death on our roads is one too many. We are determined to do all we can to make our roads as safe as possible, and we will continue to work tirelessly to keep England’s motorways among the safest in the world.”

Szouba will be sentenced on 19 October.

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