The widow of a motorist killed by an HGV driver on the M1 said she would not rest until the hard shoulder was returned to smart motorways across the country.

Claire Mercer said it was “unfathomable” that the Prime Minister had scrapped all future all lanes running (ALR) smart motorways projects but existing ones were still in use every day.

And she blasted the government and National Highways for being “disgusting” in failing to reply to a letter outlining evidence of safety concerns and seeking reassurances for the immediate reinstatement of the hard shoulder.

Mercer’s husband Jason and Alexandru Murgreanu were killed in June 2019 when they were knocked down by a lorry after they were involved in a minor collision on a stretch of ALR motorway near Meadowhall in South Yorkshire.

The pair had pulled over to the roadside as far as possible – and yet the lane was not closed to traffic until after the second, fatal collision.

At an inquest into the men’s deaths, the coroner said ALRs carried “an ongoing risk of future deaths”.

Helen Smith, a specialist smart motorways lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Mercer, said: “Too many lives are being turned upside down and families being torn apart because of collisions and deaths on smart motorways.

“Coroners, the Transport Select Committee, an independent road safety expert and even the Prime Minister have all also expressed real concerns about the safety of ALRs.

“Despite this, transport bosses and the government continue to drag their heels on taking decisive action to reinstate the hard shoulder and to prioritise the safety of road users. This is despite us providing them with compelling evidence regarding safety concerns.

“We believe that the continued avoidance of National Highways and the government to re-evaluate existing ALR smart motorways represents an unreasonable and negligent approach to the safety of road users.”

Mercer said: “As time passes the pain of losing Jason doesn’t ease but more information about the lack of safety on ALRs continues to come to light.

“For several years there’s been too many stories of how people have been killed or seriously injured on these roads and stories of families being torn apart.”

She added: “I believe that for many years, the government continued to remove hard shoulders from motorways while arrogantly ignoring the overwhelming public view that motorways without hard shoulders are dangerous and that the policy has resulted in many unnecessary deaths and serious injuries.

“It’s irrational for existing ALRs to be maintained in light of everything we know and against the comments of the Prime Minister almost a year ago that he would be scrapping the development of any new schemes.

“I’m not going to stand for these stalling tactics which show a lack of common decency and continue to put thousands of lives at risk.”

The department for transport was approached for comment.