Claire’s campaign against Smart Motorways

RoadPeace members are part of a community determined to make a difference. Many of our members have been directly affected by road danger, whether bereaved or themselves suffering life changing injury. This experience can lead to a lifetime of tireless campaigning to prevent others suffering similarly.

RoadPeace member Claire Mercer is campaigning against Smart Motorways. Here she share’s her story:

‘A couple of weeks after two police officers arrived at my door to tell me my husband would never come home again I started to pick up, through the fog in my brain, that I kept hearing the term smart motorway. What was a smart motorway? Why did everyone keep mentioning them? It was ‘just’ a terrible accident wasn’t it?

I sat down at my computer and googled the term, there was a lot of anger and hatred directed at them, a lot of people and organisations had been complaining about them for many, many years, but I’d never even heard the term before. There didn’t seem to be a centralised point for everyone to gather and discuss what could be done and nobody seemed to be telling the general public, and information was directed at industry and trades. There were a couple of Facebook pages but the only suggestion there was to write to my MP. I’m afraid I was a bit curt in the face of this suggestion and replied “my husband’s just been killed I want to do more than write a letter of complaint”.

I knew I wanted to fight the removal of the hard shoulder through legal channels, not for compensation, but to get the law changed so it couldn’t be done anymore but I didn’t know any or the terminology and how to go about it. Eventually I found out that what I needed to do was bring a ‘judicial review’ against Highways England and the Government using a law firm that dealt with public law.

My twin sister put a website and Facebook page together almost overnight and the campaign had started. We are gathering a lot of supporters and I’m doing a lot of media interviews, some days I’ve done as many as 9 in one day! 2 or 3 is more common and I’ve been on BBC Inside Out, Panorama and the evening news. The interviews are exhausting mentally and physically, especially trying to fit them in round my day job, looking after the dog I recently got from the local rescue and ‘self-care’ but I do think the distraction is what I need right now, because how on earth else am I meant to cope with the other half of me just disappearing out of my life?

I was with him at 8am, he was dead by 8.15am.

He drove me to and from work every day, we met at dinner time, we did everything together, then gone. No warning, just gone.

Now while trying to accept that this is real and that it won’t somehow all magically change back, I find myself living on my own (I’ve never spent a night on my own before) and I have to get a noisy, crowded, unreliable bus to work every day, I can’t stand noise around me, everything is just overwhelming but I cant listen to my normal music because it reminds me of Jason too much, so this morning for instance I had to blast the 1812 Overture on repeat into my ears to drown out the extra noisy passengers.

We will win our campaign, it will be a hard slog and we need to crowd fund for the legal fee’s but my solicitors are very confident. I have also reported Highways England to the Police and they are looking into Criminal Corporate Manslaughters charges.

Meeting others in the same situation has helped massively. We have the Broken Hearts message group and we talk every day. Between us we have lost a Mum, a Dad, a Partner, a Husband, a Brother and a Son, unfortunately our group will probably grow. I actively reach out to others and get them to join our circle, it does help, and it helps each of us to help others. The newest recruit says she’s slept better in the last 2 weeks since she joined and feels so much stronger.’

Click below to find out more about Claire’s campaign:

Read more: RoadPeace Legal Panel member Leigh Day’s blog, ‘Smart Motorways, do they make motorways safer?’