Campaigners from the Smart Motorways Kill campaign stand outside Birmingham International Convention Centre in protest

“We want the hard shoulder returned” say smart motorways campaigners

Campaigners continue to call on the government to reinstate the hard shoulder on all existing smart motorways.

The ‘digital roads’ have been a source of longstanding controversy after hard shoulders were replaced with live running lanes.

Claire Mercer, whose husband Jason was killed by an HGV lorry on the M1 smart motorway, explained how her entire life changed when she lost her husband.

She said: “It should have just been a minor incident and a bad start to the day but because there was no hard shoulder the emergency services couldn’t get over the barrier and move their cars out of the live lane.”

ANGER: Campaigners stand in protest against government smart motorway plans. Credit: PA Media

Mercer founded the Smart Motorways Kill campaign, aimed at bringing a stop to all smart motorways.

She said: “We keep it simple. We want the hard shoulder returned on all smart motorways.”

Mercer said the decision “should have never left the drawing board”.

She added: “It’s absolutely ludicrous, the hard shoulder was very tangible and just worked.”

This comes despite Prime Minister Rishi Sunak halting future schemes from government road-building plans back in April.

In his announcement, Sunak said: “All drivers deserve to have confidence in the roads they use to get around the country.

“That’s why last year I pledged to stop the building of all new smart motorways, and today I’m making good on that promise.

“Many people across the country rely on driving to get to work, to take their children to school and go about their daily lives and I want them to be able to do so with full confidence that the roads they drive on are safe.”

In response to the decision Mercer said: “I don’t understand how the government can say they are not going to build any new smart motorways, but we have to keep the existing ones that are here and killing us.

Mercer said: “As long as my husband is dead I will carry on this campaign.

“I will not give up.”

ANGER: Campaigners call for government action at ICC Protest. Credit: Alex Franklin

Ministers also pledged that existing stretches would continue to benefit from government funding.

A spokesperson for The Department for Transport said: “Drivers deserve to have confidence in the roads they use and, recognising public concerns, the Government has cancelled plans for all new smart motorway schemes.

“Working with National Highways, we continue to invest £900 million in further safety improvements on existing smart motorways.”

Related Articles