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It has been widely reported that Highways England is facing possible corporate manslaughter charges. However, its barrister has already revealed the defence strategy, it seems.
Last week Doncaster coroner Nicola Mundy adjourned the inquest into the death of 62-year-old Nargis Begum, killed on the M1, and referred Highways England to the Crown Prosecution Service.
The death of Nargis Begum, killed while trying to escape from her car 16 minutes after it had broken down on a section of so-called smart motorway, is not the first time that smart motorways have come under the spotlight. The mounting public and political outcry over smart motorways prompted Grant Shapps to conduct a review last year before any further such motorway ‘upgrades’. However, the roll-out continues with only minor adjustments.
Officially, they are called ‘smart’ because they feature technology that supposedly monitors traffic flow and variable message boards flash up temporary speed restrictions for optimum traffic flow, to prevent stop-start congestion.
Smarter still, they are a way of increasing motorway capacity on the cheap by removing the hard shoulder to gain an extra running lane. Last year it emerged that the sporadic refuge zones that are meant to be provided at 500-metre intervals are in fact typically 2.5