Traveling Abroad: What Is A “Smart” Motorway?

Claire Mercer had no idea a routine farewell to her husband would be the last. Her husband Jason was dead only fifteen minutes after they shared what would be a final breakfast — killed by a massive tractor trailer traveling down a “smart motorway” that most British citizens would have recognized as a hard shoulder on the side of the highway.

He was 44 years old at the time of his death this past June.

Jason is also only one of five people who have been killed along that 16-mile smart motorway in the past year. The man who was operating the vehicle was temporarily put into police custody because of the incident, but he was released on bail. Claire isn’t blaming the 39-year-old man who killed her husband — she’s blaming Highways England, and suing for wrongful death.

Coroners who have to deal with the aftermath of these accidents agree that more people will wind up in the morgue if something isn’t done immediately. This was a direct response to the death of Dev Naran, an eight-year-old Leicester boy who died when his grandfather was forced to park on the shoulder.

Claire believes that normally dangerous roadways like these would force traffic organizations to search for ways to mitigate the danger and end the practice of smart motorways — but instead, new ones are popping up.

Smart motorways exist to increase the flow of traffic by opening up shoulders to vehicles. According to their creators, they use “traffic management” tech to manipulate traffic patterns along certain roads. These smart motorways use variable speed limits and remove the hard shoulder. The traffic management tech displays a red “X” above the lane if someone breaks down on the now open shoulder. 

Naturally, it doesn’t always work — and people are the ones paying the price.

Jason was in a small car accident. Six minutes later, his vehicle was still parked on the shoulder, but computers hadn’t registered the accident or displayed the red “X.”

And of course, one must wonder whether or not 100 percent of the vehicles on the road would be paying close enough attention to notice the “X” and avert a tragedy.

Opponents of smart motorways call them death traps.

Since these lanes have opened up to traffic, the entirety of motorway deaths has increased by a massive eight percent, which amounts to 107 fatalities in the last two years.

When traveling abroad, it’s important that Americans know about these smart motorways. It may just be best to avoid them completely. Finding compensation for accidents that occur in another country can be difficult and time-consuming, but it is possible. If you were in an accident in the United Kingdom, call a personal injury lawyer for a free consult.

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