Families of smart motorway crash victims beg scheme to be scrapped

Tuesday 14th January 2020 16:42 EST

The devastated families of those who have died in car crashes have launched a fresh plea for the government to ban the use of smart motorways after loosing loved ones on the roads.

Road chiefs have claimed the revamped routes – which do not have a hard shoulder – are safe because they have regularly-spaced refuges. But their safety have come into question after nine drivers lost their lives after breaking down on carriageways last year.

Members of the Broken Hearts Club, a Whatsapp group set up by victims' relatives, have called on the prime minister to scrap what they call the 'death-trap' scheme and restore the hard shoulders to prevent further loss of life.

One victim was eight year old Dev Naran, from Leicester, who died instantly when the Toyota Yaris he was in was hit at 56mph on the M6 on May 31 2018. His grandfather Bhanuchandra Lodhia, 70,was  driving along the road with Naran in the back and his cousin Ria Soni, 20, in the front passenger seat. It is not clear why Mr Lodhia stopped on the hard shoulder with his hazard lights on but a police investigation established the car was stationary for just 45 seconds before lorry driver Paul Kiddy, 62, from Hampshire, hit the Toyota at about 56mph.

Speaking to the Sunday Times magazine Dev's mother Meera, 36, said: 'I miss him every day. I don't want any other families to suffer like mine has suffered. The government has to restore the hard shoulders on these motorways until they can find a way to make them safe.'

Hundreds of miles of motorways across England have been converted into smart motorways, meaning the hard shoulder is used as either a permanent or part-time running lane.

Motoring groups have warned they create a safety risk as vehicles that break down in live lanes risk being hit from behind.

Figures published in the Daily Mail revealed 19,316 motorists suffered the horror of breaking down in a live lane in 2017 and 2018 – a rate of 26 drivers a day and have accounted for 38 per cent of all stoppages on smart motorways.

The number of motorway deaths is increasing, with 107 killed on motorways in 2018 – up 8 per cent on 2017.

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