Dev Naran: Hard shoulder warning after boy's death on M6 smart motorway
Written by The Newsroom on October 16, 2019
A coroner has warned of the dangers of smart motorways after an eight-year-old boy was killed on the M6.
Dev Naran was in his grandfather’s Toyota, which had pulled up on the hard shoulder but the lane was being used and the car was struck by a lorry.
The boy died in the crash, close to the Birmingham junction, in May 2018 .
Coroner Emma Brown said she had written to Highways England which told her smart motorways were “significantly safer” than standard ones.
She wrote to the agency following the inquest into the death of the boy, from Leicester, which concluded on 11 October.
The lorry was travelling at 56mph (90km/h) when it hit the rear of the Toyota, Ms Brown said in her report.
Due to the geography of the stretch of road, she added the lorry driver “only had a very short time” to react.
Hundreds of miles of motorways in England have been made “smart”, which means the hard shoulder may be used as a running lane.
In her report, Ms Brown said it was not known why Dev’s grandfather had stopped on the hard shoulder which at the time was “clearly marked” as a running lane.
When a hard shoulder is in use as a lane, a speed limit is displayed above it. A red cross is used if it is closed.
Ms Brown said drivers “may become confused” despite signage. She also said Highways England had no system for automatic alerts to a stopped vehicle in a lane.
Although a radar system is being developed, it is not being considered for hard shoulder lanes.
Highways England said its “deepest sympathies” were with Dev’s family but added it “cannot urge drivers strongly enough to only stop on the motorway in an emergency”.
Dev’s family has previously described him as “a kind and compassionate angel” who “excelled at school and wanted to become a doctor”.
Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.
Updates from the Cannock Chase Radio News Desk via BBC Birmingham and Black Country