After a series of horrific deaths on roads, a new body dedicated to road safety will investigate serious smart motorway accidents. 

Road Safety Investigation Branch, Department for Transport. Collisions on motorways involving the removal of the hard shoulder will be covered.

Although similar organizations exist that can investigate maritime, rail and air accidents, more road deaths are reported than any other mode of transportation.

Although the RSIB won’t analyze every crash, Steve Gooding (director of the RAC Foundation) said that it should focus on recurring issues such as collisions occurring on roads where there is no hard shoulder and instead use the running lane. 

According to Mr Gooding, investigators are responsible for identifying background patterns and patterns linking collisions. Then they will recommend preventive actions.

“This concerns the entire road transportation system. It could look at any topic, from pressure on commercial drivers to adhere to deadlines to smart motorway use and everything in between.

“The important thing is that each branch will operate independently and be open to learning lessons from others, rather than pointing fingers at them.

A new body focusing on road safety will investigate serious smart motorway accidents. Department for Transport has launched the Road Safety Investigation Branch.

Jason Mercer (pictured with his wife Claire), 44, and Alexandru Murgeanu, 22, were killed on the M1 in South Yorkshire in June 2019 because of the careless driving of lorry driver Prezemyslaw Szuba

Alexandru Murgeanu (pictured, 22 and 44 respectively) was killed in South Yorkshire’s M1 accident in June 2019. This happened because Prezemyslaw Zuba, a lorry driver, drove carelessly.

Grandmother Nargis Begum, 62, (pictured) who died after her broken down car was hit on the M1 in South Yorkshire in 2018

Nargis Begum, Grandmother, was 62 years old and died when her vehicle broke down on the M1 in South Yorkshire.

It is a terrible reality that drivers who are unable to drive safely on roads can cause serious damage. 

NARGIS BEGUM 

Mohammed Bashir, 67, drove Mrs Begum’s Nissan Qashqai on the M1 while he was at work. To wait for assistance, they left behind their Nissan Qashqai. However, another car struck the vehicle and it was sent into Mrs Begum.

In December, a pre-inquest review hearing revealed that the warning lights on the motorway were not activated enough to prevent drivers from entering the lane in which the couple was stranded.

Highways England was sent to Crown Prosecution Service by a coroner.

DEV NARAN

In 2018, the 8-year-old boy was struck and killed by a car on M6 near Birmingham. His family had left their vehicle on the hard shoulder, which is used for live traffic.

Emma Brown, Coroner of the Inquest into the Youngster’s Death expressed concerns over the ‘risks to life’ resulting from the loss the the hard shoulder.

His mother Meera from Leicester said after the inquiry that smart motorways “still pose threats to life on a daily basis.”

SEVIM & AYSE UTU

Sevim Ustun (49), and Ayse Ustiun (68), both died in 2018, after the family’s car crashed on M25 in Essex. The car was then struck by a truck.

No overhead gantry signs were placed to close the road or notify of broken vehicles. The life-altering injuries also occurred to a 10-year-old girl. Highways England was also urged to face criminal charges for corporate murder.

DEREK JACOBS

After his vehicle had problems with its tyres on the M1 north Derbyshire, in 2019, the retired engineer was struck and killed.

The Volkswagen Crafter van of his Volkswagen Crafter came to an abrupt halt on the motorway’s first lane, which was formerly known as the hard shoulder. A Ford Ka hit the van, then a coach drove through.

Sally, Sally’s widow, said that her husband would be still alive if he had a tough shoulder.

ZOLTAN TOOK

Father-of-4 was riding his motorcycle to a vehicle stationary that had become stuck on the M4.

The 42-year-old engineer suffered ‘multiple catastrophic injuries’ when he struck a broken down grey Land Rover Discovery stuck in the ‘inner slow lane’ close to Junction 6 of the motorway near Slough, Berkshire, on May 7 last year. 

Motorists may become stranded on motorways with smart features. Instead of displaying a red cross signalling that the lane has been closed, the gantries should display a green X if a car is broken down.

However, there were many fatal crashes on smart motorways over the years – this will be examined by the new body.  

One father of four was struck and killed by his motorbike while riding into a stationary car that had been stranded in the inner lane.

Zoltan Turok, 42, was an engineer who sustained’multiple catastrophic injury’ after he crashed into a grey Land Rover Discovery that had been broken down. He got stuck on the “inner slow” lane near Slough in Berkshire.

Land Rover was stuck in an area which was being transformed into a smart motorway. As a result there were no hard shoulders or safety lanes to its nearest side.

A police collision investigator stated earlier this year that Mr Torok would not have died if there was a traditional hard shoulder on the M4.

Eight-year-old Dev Naran was struck and killed by a car on the M6 near Birmingham, in 2018. His family had left their vehicle on a shoulder that is used for a live lane. 

Emma Brown, Coroner of the Inquest into the Youngster’s Death expressed concern over the “risk to life” resulting from the loss the the shoulder. 

Prezemyslaw Zuba, a lorry driver, was negligent in his driving and caused the deaths of Alexandru Murgeanu (22), and Jason Mercer (44) on South Yorkshire’s M1 in June 2019.

Szuba (40), plowed into their cars as they stood still in lane 1 after a minor shunt.

After fatalities in which vehicles were struck from behind, there have long been concerns regarding the safety of smart motorways.

Recent RAC surveys of 2652 UK drivers found that 62% think hard shoulders should return to the motorway network.

National Highways, the Government-owned Company responsible for major A roads in England insists that smart motorways are “our most safe roads” in terms of the amount of fatal or serious casualties they cause.

To investigate all sorts of UK road crashes, RSIB has a special team of inspectors.

The police and DfT will have to investigate why the collisions occurred and issue safety recommendations.

You will get insight on trends in new technologies, including self-driving and escooters as well.

Police inquiries cannot be replaced by accident investigation branches because they can’t identify fault or liability.

Provisional DfT data show that there were 1,560 road fatalities in Britain last year.

From 2012 to 2020, there was not a significant drop in road fatalities. However coronavirus lockdowns caused a dramatic reduction in traffic.

Baroness Vere, Roads Minister said that while the UK might have the best roads around the globe, tragedies do still occur and there are many people who get hurt or killed on the UK’s roads network.

“That’s why the Road Safety Investigation Branch was established, to improve safety and ensure that road users are safe. We also plan on bringing safety measures into line with the rest of the transport modes and future travel.

Steve Gooding is the director of the RAC Foundation. He told PA News Agency that the branch would need to focus on incidents that can shed light on recurring problems such as collisions on motorways with the hard shoulder being turned into a running lane.

“The investigator’s job is to find background patterns and patterns linking a variety of collisions, and recommend preventive actions.

“This concerns the entire road transportation system. It could look at any topic, from pressure on commercial drivers to adhere to deadlines to smart motorway use and everything in between.

“The important thing is that each branch will operate independently and be open to learning lessons from others, rather than pointing fingers at them.

The smart motorway network so far with the areas that will be completed despite the pause

So far, the smart motorway network with the regions that will still be finished despite the pause

Zoltan Torok, a 42-year-old engineer, suffered 'multiple catastrophic injuries' when he struck a stranded vehicle on the M4 near Slough, Berkshire

Zoltan Turok, 42, an engineer suffered “multiple catastrophic injuries” when he hit a vehicle on M4 in Slough, Berkshire.