Son of woman killed on a smart motorway pens letter to Grant Shapps

Son of woman killed on a smart motorway pens letter to Grant Shapps

March 1, 2021

Son of woman who was killed on a smart motorway pens letter to Grant Shapps pleading with him to scrap the ‘death trap’ scheme

  • The fiery letter says Grant Shapps will be held responsible for future deaths
  • Niaz Shazad’s mother died on the M1 in 2018 after she was struck by a lorry
  • The letter dismisses Mr Shapps’ insistence that smart motorways are ‘as safe’

The son of a woman killed on a smart motorway has urged the Transport Secretary to scrap them.

Niaz Shazad, 32, has written to Grant Shapps warning he will be held responsible for future deaths if he ‘passes the buck’. 

The chartered accountant’s mother Nargis Begum, 62, was killed on the M1 in 2018 when the Nissan Qashqai her husband was driving broke down on the inside lane in South Yorkshire.

The letter warns Grant Shapps (pictured) will be held responsible for future deaths if he ‘passes the buck’

Nargis Begum (pictured with her husband), from Sheffield, died on a stretch of the M1 in South Yorkshire, near Woodhall Services, in September 2018

The mother of five is believed to have been hit by the car when it was struck by a lorry more than 15 minutes later after control room staff failed to notice their plight and close the lane.

Mr Shazad’s letter dismisses Mr Shapps’ insistence that smart motorways are ‘as safe as, or safer than’ conventional ones as ‘Orwellian double-speak’, saying that near misses have increased 20-fold.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: ‘Every death on our roads is a tragedy and our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Mrs Begum.

‘The current Secretary of State has committed £500million to smart motorways safety improvements. [He] will respond to Mr Shazad’s letter directly.’

Smart motorways are designed to increase road capacity and reduce congestion. 

But cars can become stranded on the inside lane in live traffic because their hard shoulders have either been permanently scrapped or are removed temporarily during peak times.

Emergency refuges provide safe spaces for vehicles to pull into, but they are up to 1.5miles apart and cannot always be reached.

Mr Shapps has insisted he is making the roads safer by bringing forward a deadline of installing vital radar technology which can detect stationary cars within 20 seconds from 2023 to next year.

Smart motorways are designed to increase road capacity and reduce congestion, but cars can become stranded on the inside lane

Following a stocktake which reported back last March, he also said emergency refuges should be spaced three-quarters of a mile apart and no more than a mile on new schemes.

But campaigners want hard shoulders fully restored, something Mr Shapps has said is not feasible.

Last week the Commons transport committee launched an inquiry into the roads following a string of concerns raised by public figures including coroners and police chiefs.

Shadow Transport Secretary Jim McMahon called for hard shoulders to be re-instated, adding: ‘It beggars belief that the Transport Secretary has done nothing to prevent further deaths.’

A Department for Transport spokesman said: ‘The safety of drivers and passengers using these routes remains the Transport Secretary’s personal priority. He will continue to press Highways England to deliver improvements as soon as possible.’

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