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Ban on new smart motorway comes in after inquest hears pensioner deaths would not have happened if there had been a hard shoulder

By Tom Gibson | April 18, 2023

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Video footage has captured the moment a car hits a van and has been released to promote road safety

As Regit reported last week, the ban on new smart motorways has now come in meaning no more will be developed.

14 planned schemes, including 11 already on pause and three set for construction, will be scrapped due to finances and low public confidence.

But the move has come too late for those who have already been killed and injured on smart motorways, with an inquest stating last week that the deaths of two pensioners would’ve been avoided if there was a hard shoulders.

83 year-old Derek Jacobs was killed when his van was hit by a red Ford Ka on the M1 near Sheffield back in 2019, after he had stopped in the live inside lane and got out of the vehicle following a tyre blow-out.

The front-seat passenger in the Ka that hit the van, Charles Scripps, 78, died in hospital two months after the collision. 

Dashcam footage from a vehicle behind showed how the car, driven by Mr Scripps' wife Jean, collided with the van, flipped in the air and rolled into oncoming traffic, where it was ultimately hit by a coach.

Concluding that both Mr Jacobs and Mr Scripps died as a result of a road traffic collision, assistant coroner Susan Evans told Chesterfield Coroner's Court: 'Smart motorways are hugely controversial because of the lack of any hard shoulder for motorists to use in times of need such as occurred here.

'It is immediately apparent that, had there been a hard shoulder, this incident would not have occurred because Mr Jacobs would have been able to pull off the live lane entirely.'

But the coroner added: 'That said, there are many roads in the road network, including dual carriageway A-roads, that are subject to the national speed limit and do not have the benefit of any hard shoulder.'

She heard there was no evidence that Mrs Scripps took any action to avoid the collision, despite the fact Mr Jacobs had parked his van almost touching the crash barrier on the far left of the carriageway.

Miss Evans said: 'It is evident Mrs Scripps simply did not see the stationary van before she collided with it. For reasons we will never know, she appeared to have not been paying attention to the road.'

Labour MP Sarah Champion had previously highlighted figures suggesting 79 people have been killed on smart motorways although that hasn’t been verified.

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