The vigil was being led by, amongst others, Rotherham’s Claire Mercer on behalf of her late husband Jason – one of those whose death has been attributed to defects with the supposed upgrade of motorways.
And the tragic irony is that her husband – one of two people killed on the M1 in South Yorkshire in June 2019 – might still be alive if Ministers had heeded a previous Transport Select Committee report five years ago.
Back then, MPs expressed “deep scepticism” about the design and implementation of all-lane running motorways. Now they have gone further and called for all new schemes to be halted for five years so a proper assessment can be made about safety on existing so-called ‘smart motorways’ while the retro-fitting of extra emergency refuges takes place.
MPs also call on the Office of Road and Rail to review the effectiveness of technology used to monitor stricken vehicles – a significant move in the wake of recent revelations about the sheer number of defective cameras on the stretch of M1 where Mr Mercer lost his life.
Though Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has taken some steps to improve ‘smart motorways’, they do not go far enough and he is now duty-bound to confirm on Thursday at Transport Questions in the Houses of Parliament that he will comply with this latest report in full. It’s the smart move. It’s also his only option if lives are to be saved.