Smart motorways under the microscope after the inquest into the death of Dev Naran

15 Oct, 2019

The question of whether smart motorways are safe has been brought to national media attention following the inquest of Dev Naran, an 8 year-old boy, who was killed on the M6 motorway just outside Birmingham in May 2018.

The facts of the case could not be more tragic. Dev was killed, and his cousin and grandfather seriously injured after their vehicle was hit by a lorry whilst they were sat stationary on the hard shoulder, which had shortly before been opened as a live lane to traffic to relieve congestion.  They were travelling home at the time from saying goodbye to Dev’s brother who was desperately ill at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

James Byrne, instructed by Keith Barrett of Fieldfisher, and representing both the family of Dev and his cousin at the inquest into Dev’s death and in the upcoming personal injury claims, directly challenged top safety executives Highways England in respect of the safety assessments and methods of detecting stopped vehicles on live lane hard shoulders.  After emotional testimony from those involved in the collision, and often abrasive questioning of Highways England, the West Midlands Area Coroner, Emma Brown, determined that she wanted more answers from Highways England by way of a Prevention of Future Deaths Report.

Over the next few years Highways England plans to roll out over 4000 miles of smart motorways at the cost of £2billion.  Hopefully, the issues raised at Dev’s inquest and the heightened media attention that now surrounds the case will play an important role in ensuring that the safety of road users remains the primary concern in this massive national infrastructure project.

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