Devastated families of two people killed in separate crashes on M1 ‘smart’ motorway join forces in legal battle to have them scrapped
- Jason Mercer, 47, and Nargis Begum, 62, died in crashes on same stretch of M1
- Both of the families have launched legal battles against Highways England
- They are calling for the use of smart motorways to be halted as they ‘cost lives’
The grieving relatives of two motorists who were killed on a smart motorway have joined forces in their campaign to have the controversial system scrapped.
Jason Mercer, 47, and Nargis Begum, 62, tragically died in separate crashes on a stretch of the M1 near Sheffield, South Yorks.
Following Jason’s death, his widow Claire launched a legal battle against Highways England calling for the use of smart motorways to be halted as they ‘cost lives’.
Jason Mercer’s widow Claire (pictured together) launched a legal battle against Highways England after his death, calling for a halt to the roll out of smart motorways which she says ‘cost lives’
Nargis Begum, pictured with her husband, was killed on the same stretch of the M1 as Jason Mercer and her family have since launched their own legal case against Highways England
Nargis’s family have now launched a separate legal case against Highways England in connection with her death.
Nargis, a mum-of-five and grandmother-of-nine, died in September 2018, after the Nissan Qashqai she was a passenger in broke down near Woodall services.
Nargis and her husband Mohammed Bashir, 67, exited their vehicle and were waiting for help to arrive when another vehicle crashed into their Nissan and ploughed into Nargis.
The stranded Nissan had its hazard lights on for 17 minutes when the other vehicle collided with it but the lane had not been closed to traffic.
Both Jason Mercer, 47, and Nargis Begum, 62,died in separate crashes on a stretch of the M1 near Sheffield, South Yorks. Pictured: A stretch of smart motorway on the M3, in Surrey
Jason, pictured with widow Claire, and 22-year-old Alexandru Murgreanu were killed when they were knocked down by a lorry shortly after the pair was involved in a minor collision near junction 34 of the M1 near Meadowhall shopping centre
Minutes before the collision the couple had phoned their daughter Saima Aktar who arrived at the scene to find paramedics trying to save her mum.
The family have been left ‘absolutely devastated’ following her tragic death and continue to feel pain today as they did two years ago.
Saima said: ‘My mum was the most loving and caring mum you could ever wish for. She lived for her family and was our rock.
‘It may be more than two years since her death but the pain we continue to feel is as strong now as it was then. My dad in particular is absolutely devastated.
‘That he avoided injury but his wife of 45 years didn’t have such an impact on him.
‘We still don’t understand why action is not being taken to sort the problem of these motorways. They may be called smart but they’re anything but.’
The families have teamed up to lobby Highways England for change.
Helen Smith, the expert public law and human rights lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, representing Claire, said: ‘Claire and Nargis’s family are steadfast in their belief that smart motorways cost lives.
The devastated families of Jason, right, and Nargis, left, have joined forces to launch legal battles against Highways England with the hope of putting an end to the use of smart motorways
Jason, pictured, and Nargis were among four people to die in collisions on the M1 around Sheffield in ten months
‘As part of our investigations into Claire’s case we’re continuing to uncover more information about smart motorways which backs up that view.
‘A recent survey also found more than half of drivers questioned didn’t know to use a smart motorway which just adds to the groundswell of opinion that there needs to be change.’
Jason and 22-year-old Alexandru Murgreanu were killed when they were knocked down by a lorry shortly after the pair was involved in a minor collision near junction 34 of the M1 near Meadowhall.
The pair had pulled over to the roadside as far as they could.
However, the lane was not closed to traffic until after the collision which happened on 7 June, 2019.
Jason and Nargis were among four people to die in collisions on the M1 around Sheffield in ten months.
The stretch of motorway is an ‘all lanes running’ (ALR) motorway which instead of a hard shoulder has emergency refuges spaced at intervals.
Jason, pictured with Claire, and Alexandru had pulled over to the roadside as much as they could but the lane was not closed to traffic until after the collision in June 2019
Christopher Kardajhi, the specialist road accident lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Nargis’s family, said: ‘Nargis’s and Claire’s families have suffered unspeakable losses. Understandably they still have a number of questions about how Jason and Nargis’s deaths could have happened.
‘Smart motorway safety continues to be in the spotlight with the number of people killed on such routes a major cause for concern.
‘We’re determined to do everything we can to support families affected by the use of smart motorways and provide the families with the answers they deserve.’
Claire has launched a crowdfunding campaign to try and raise £20,000 to help challenge the government’s policy on Smart Motorways.
Claire added: ‘It’s too late for me and Nargis’s family and nothing will ever replace the hurt and anger we feel. However, we do take some small comfort from trying to help and support each other.
‘We’re determined to honour the memory of Jason and Nargis by pushing for change. We know only too well the dangers of smart motorways and no doubt others do. However, they don’t have to be alone and we can campaign for change together.’
For more information visit Crowd Justice.