Smart motorways are ‘death traps’ as lawyer calls for roads to close with immediate effect
Smart motorways guide reveals which lanes to avoid
He warned leaving the roads in their current condition would be a “dereliction” of legal duty and has pushed for the road sot be immediately altered.
Mr Freeman said the nearside lane should be closed to act as a hard shoulder to allow drivers to stop in the event of an emergency.
He added the roads posed a “very real” and an “obvious risk” to life just hours after a coroner investigating fatal accidents also attacked the roads.
Mr Freeman said: “Following the spate of horrific accidents on smart motorways it has become manifestly clear these are death traps.
“Highways England has a duty of care to the motorist. To allow smart motorways to continue in their current format would constitute a gross dereliction of their legal duty.
“They should, with immediate effect, close the nearside lane of all smart motorways by using the red cross on the gantry system – thereby enabling the motorist to then use the lane as a default hard shoulder.
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“What could be more urgent than the temporary halting of smart motorways because of the very real and obvious risk they pose to human life?”
Just days ago, Corner David Urpeth said smart motorways carried an “ongoing risk of future deaths” and has called for an urgent review into the roads.
He gave a verdict of unlawful killing for the deaths of Jason Mercer and Alexandru Murgeanu who were killed on a smart motorway in June 2019.
Both men were hit by a lorry while exchanging details after a different incident.
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The man driving the lorry, Prezemyslaw Szuba, was jailed for 10 months over the incident.
However, Szuba has also claimed the accident would have been “avoidable” with a hard shoulder in place.
Nick Freeman said it was wrong a road system did not have an “emergency form of escape”.
He said: “When there is a product recall on, say, a defective car, the motorist is advised to deal with it immediately and not to drive the vehicle.
“So why isn’t the same approach being adopted in relation to a road network which is proving to be lethal and was always going to be so.
“You cannot have a road system without an emergency form of escape.”
Highways England said it was “determined” to do everything possible to make the roads safe.
The agency said it was already addressing many of the issues raised by the coroner as published in the Smart Motorway Evidence Stocktake and Action Plan.
It added: “We will carefully consider any further comments raised by the coroner once we receive the report.”
However, Nick Freeman is pushing for urgent changes to the road network to avoid any future fatal accidents.
He said: “I knew these roads before they were smart motorways and since their change of status the improvement has been negligible.
“That`s before you consider the terrible loss of life.
“That`s why the change of the nearside lane to hard shoulder must happen immediately.
“Apart from the obvious safety benefits, this shouldn’t cause any congestion due to relative light traffic flow during lockdown.
“How much more blood does Highways England want on its hands?”
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