Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Removing M-Way Hard Shoulder Too Risky, Say Police after Woman Dies

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Removing M-Way Hard Shoulder Too Risky, Say Police after Woman Dies

Article excerpt

Byline: RossLydall Chief News Correspondent

POLICE have warned about the danger of removing the hard shoulder from motorways after a woman was killed when an HGV ploughed into the back of a broken-down car on the M25.

Laura Cooper, 34, who was the rearseat passenger in the car, died in hospital four days after the late-night collision on an unlit section of the motorway near Waltham Abbey.

The case was described as "extremely disturbing" by MPs when details were revealed by police to a Commons inquiry into so-called "smart motorways", which have the hard shoulder converted into a normal lane to ease congestion. Pc Simon Wickenden, a Met police road safety expert, told the Commons transport committee on Monday that "all-lane running" had been introduced despite a 200 per cent higher risk of collisions involving vehicles broken down in a "live" lane. He said the crash, believed to have been caused after the Nissan Note car ran out of fuel, is being investigated by Essex police, "but on the facts that we have, that is exactly the type of collision that was both predicted by the police, and acknowledged by the Highways Agency at the time, that there was an increased likelihood of occurring".

Pc Wickenden said: "Though the visibility was clear, this was on an unlit section of the road, where no hard shoulder was provided. A short time after stopping [the car] was struck by a following HGV. That resulted in fatal injury to the rear seat occupant and serious injury to the other two occupants of the car.

"That type of collision is more likely to result in a serious or fatal injury than any of the collision types that are being reduced. The increased risk to us is unacceptable."

The collision occurred between junctions 26 and 27 at 1.55am on March 29. Ms Cooper, who had an 18-year-old son Josh and lived in Leicestershire, was returning with relatives to London to visit her mother. …

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