I was left crushed in my lorry on a smart motorway. Now I may never drive again

A 25-year-old truck driver has said he will never drive again after his truck crashed into a recovery vehicle parked on a live lane on a smart highway.

Martin Broadbelt suffered a broken leg, five broken ribs and had to be cut out of the wreck after failing to steer clear.

National Highways did not spot the recovery vehicle helping a van with a flat tire on CCTV in time to close the lane to traffic.

The M6 ​​in which the accident occurred is also not equipped with “Stopped Vehicle Detection” (SVD) technology, which is designed to identify stranded cars.

Mr Broadbelt, 50, agreed to become the first truck driver to speak out about the threat of stationary vehicles in live lanes where the hard shoulder has been scrapped amid fears there will be more deaths.

He explained that it was difficult to determine whether the vehicle was moving or not.

“I thought the tow truck was still driving”

“I thought the tow truck was still driving. It was only in the final moments, as I got closer, that I realized it was stationary. I dodged, but it was too late,” he said from his home in Wigan.

“I got crushed; The shin on my left leg was broken and five of my ribs were crushed.”

Numerous studies of smart highway deaths in the live lane have heard how the “looming effect” can confuse motorists by mistakenly believing static vehicles are moving.

“I have been driving professionally for 25 years. But I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get in a truck again,” he continued.

“A month earlier I had to swerve to avoid a mother and child getting out of a stalled car in the inside lane. I could have killed her.

“Scrapping the hard shoulder is madness. It’s about saving money beyond security.”

“Mr Shapps should overturn this policy immediately”

Mr Broadbelt, who required therapy to deal with the trauma of the accident, believes Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has not addressed the problem by halting only part of the rollout of smart motorways.

“The government says it has stopped building smart highways. Anyone who travels the motorway network knows that new ones are being introduced. Mr Shapps should overturn this policy immediately.”

Staffordshire Police were alerted to the accident on the northbound carriageway between junctions 12 and 13 just after 5am on 23 February.

They called the National Highways, which closed the lane to traffic. Mr Broadbelt was trapped in the rubble, floating in and out of consciousness. He spent weeks in hospital, but since his release he has also been suffering from a blood clot in his leg, which requires further treatment.

Staffordshire Police said Mr Broadbelt was not arrested in the crash. Nobody else was hurt.

Claire Mercer, who is campaigning to end smart motorways after her husband was killed on the M1, said: “Life continues to be lost and ruined while the government hesitates and pretends to do something, report after report. Ministers don’t listen to the public.” I was left crushed in my lorry on a smart motorway. Now I may never drive again

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