Scrapping the hard shoulder on so-called ‘smart’ motorways causes chaos for emergency services trying to reach crash scenes, Highways England files reveal


So-called smart motorways cause major issues for emergency services when the hard shoulder is closed off, according to Highways England documents.

Files containing communication logs have revealed how staff from the company had to assist an ambulance in reaching a dying motorist after the hard shoulder was converted into a fourth lane.

The documents, obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request by The Telegraph also shows how Highways England staff had to step in and ‘hand stop’ traffic to clear a path for the ambulance.

The files focus on an incident involving the deaths of Derek Jacobs, 83, and Charles Scripps, 78, who died as a result of a car accident on March 22, 2019, on the M1.

Jacobs had been forced to stop to repair his van after being unable to reach an emergency refuge spot and killed as he attempted to work on the van.

He was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics, an hour after the crash took place.

Three other people, including Scripps, were taken to Sheffield Northern General Hospital.

Scripps, who had been a passenger in one of the cars involved in the incident, died seven weeks later.

The incident, back in 2019, was initially reported to Highways England around 1pm, but communication logs show the company didn’t close a carriageway despite requests to do so to allow an air ambulance to land at the scene.

Read more: Scrapping the hard shoulder on so-called ‘smart’ motorways causes chaos for emergency services trying to reach crash scenes, Highways England files reveal

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