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Road safety campaigner dedicates MBE to eight-year-old son who was killed in motorway crash

A road safety campaigner has dedicated her MBE[1] to the memory of her eight-year-old son who died in a crash on a smart motorway. 

Meera Naran’s son Dev was killed in May 2018 after a lorry hit his grandfather’s car on the hard shoulder of the M6 which was being used by moving traffic.

Since his death, Ms Naran, who is from Leicester, has dedicated her time to improving the smart motorway system and played a key role in the government’s new 18-point safety plan.

She also helped with updates to the Highway Code around motorway driving and successfully lobbied the government for a £5million road education campaign – the first phase of which has been rolled out.

Her MBE was for her services to road safety.

She told the BBC: “I’m accepting this in the memory of my son, Dev, and for me it’s about continuing to focus on my campaign, which is safer drivers on safer roads.

“The first person I actually wanted to tell was Dev and it was so hard because he’s not here.

“We were always each other’s cheerleaders – it’s really hard.”

She said that she was “honoured and humbled” for her hard work to be recognised “especially in memory of Dev”. 

“Grief is all-consuming…and it is devastating. If allowed, it can consume you. But I always believed in turning that into something positive by helping to save the lives of others. That’s what keeps me going,” Ms Naran said in a statement posted by De Montfort University[3] where she is a Senior Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy.

“My campaigning voice has been motivated by all the unspent love I have for Dev. If he was here, he would be getting all that love. It would be his. But instead, I am using it for road safety.”

Reflecting on her campaigning she explained that it was her “determination” from the very beginning which helped her push for changes. 

However, Ms Naran said: “I’m just really pleased it has got me where we are today, but obviously it comes with the sadness of losing my baby.

She added: “Until we achieve zero deaths, I will not be able to say that I have succeeded.”

A smart motorway is a section of a motorway that uses traffic management methods to increase capacity and reduce congestion in busy areas.

These methods could include utilising the hard shoulder as a running lane and using variable speed limits to control the flow of traffic.

But there have been questions over their safety after fatal accidents involving stationary cars being hit from behind.

In April the government announced that no more smart motorways without hard shoulders will be able to open without additional safety measures put in place. 

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Road safety campaigner dedicates MBE to son who died in smart motorway accident

A road safety campaigner has dedicated her MBE to her eight-year-old son who was killed in a smart motorway collision.

Meera Naran said the first person she wanted to tell about her award was her son, Dev, who died after a lorry struck his grandfather’s Toyota Yaris on the M6 in May 2018.

Naran, from Leicester, has been awarded an MBE for her services to road safety after playing an instrumental role in the development and adoption of the government’s £500m 18-point road safety plan for smart motorways.

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Road safety campaigner dedicates MBE to son who died in smart motorway accident

A road safety campaigner has dedicated her MBE to her eight-year-old son who was killed in a smart motorway collision.

Meera Naran told the PA news agency the first person she wanted to tell about her award was her son, Dev, who died after a lorry struck his grandfather’s Toyota Yaris on the M6 in May 2018.

Ms Naran, from Leicester, has been awarded an MBE for her services to road safety after playing an instrumental role in the development and adoption of the Government’s £500 million 18-point road safety plan for smart motorways.

The 37-year-old also helped with the inclusion of vital updates to the Highway Code around motorway driving and successfully campaigned for the Government’s £5 million road education drive.

Speaking to PA about her MBE, Ms Naran said her campaigning is her “purpose and it keeps me going”.

She said: “I’m just so honoured and truly humbled to be recognised for my work in road safety in this way.

“I’m accepting this in the memory of my son, Dev, and for me it’s about continuing to focus on my campaign, which is safer drivers on safer roads.

“You never expect to outlive your child. It’s unimaginable grief that can be all-consuming.

“But I’ve chosen to use my grief to change it into something positive and save the lives of others.

“It’s my purpose and it keeps me going.”

The honour comes just months after Highways England had to accelerate an action plan amid growing concern over all lane running (ALR) smart motorways – which involve the hard shoulder being converted into a running lane – following several fatal accidents involving stationary vehicles being hit from behind.

The Government-owned company, which has described smart motorways as “the safest roads in the country” with a lower number of fatalities per distance than conventional motorways, now aims to complete retrofitting the Stopped Vehicle Detection (SVD) radar system six months earlier than planned.

It said 15 people were killed on motorways without a permanent hard shoulder in 2019, up from 11 in 2018.

But Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Jim McMahon, told MPs in April that a stocktake found 63 people had lost their lives in the last five years and the radar technology does not spot broken-down vehicles 35% of the time.

Coronavirus – Mon Dec 21, 2020Coronavirus – Mon Dec 21, 2020

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says that smart motorways have a better safety record than regular motorways (Tolga Akmen/PA)

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, pointed out: “In the period 2015 to 2019 there were 39 fatalities on smart motorways but there were also 368 fatalities on regular motorways.”

Outlining her plans for the future, Ms Naran continued: “The next phase of my campaign has already begun and it will focus around further education and collaboration with other stakeholders – such as the police and road safety organisations.

“For far too long we’ve accepted five people dying every day and approximately 60 people seriously injured (every day) on our roads in the UK.

“Road deaths are preventable and we really need to change our mindset and culture that this is acceptable and that road deaths are inevitable.

“Safety comes first and we all need to work together to mitigate those risks from both our roads and from unsafe driving.

“It’s everyone’s responsibility, not just the Government.

“This year, I am working on pulling together all leaders in road safety to make this happen.

“Safer drivers on safer roads is exactly what we need to focus on.”

Ms Naran expressed her sadness that she could not tell Dev about her award.

She told PA: “The first person I actually wanted to tell was Dev and it was so hard because he’s not here.

“We were always each other’s cheerleaders – it’s really hard.

“I can’t wait to tell Neel (Dev’s brother) though.”

Lorry driver praised for parking under motorway bridge to stop man jumping off it

A lorry driver has been praised after parking beneath a motorway bridge[1] which it was feared a man would jump off.

A photograph shared on social media show a man sat on the edge of a bridge flanked by what appears to be two police officers.

Cheshire Police said it was called to a bridge over the M62[2] by Warrington[3] on Tuesday afternoon due to safety concerns.

Vulnerable Citizen Support Leeds, a community interest company providing welfare services for those in need, shared a photograph of the incident on their Facebook page to raise awareness of mental health issues.

The non-profit organisation said it was sharing the image to show “it’s okay not be ok”.

The group, who also deliver food to the homeless, praised the lorry driver for taking action.

“What a trucker,” the post said. “Stopping on the hard shoulder and leaving his truck there – to ensure when he did jump it wasn’t a longer distance to the floor.”

It added: “What people don’t understand is that to jump on the other side of any bridge – indicates something drastically wrong with [their] mental health. But whats next?”

Social media users were united in praise for the lorry driver, with one user commenting: “Trucker is a good human and deserves the utmost respect.”

Another wrote: “God bless the trucker and I hope and pray the man who was suicidal gets the help he needs and deserves.”

Highways England confirmed to The Independent that the M62 was closed at Junction 9 by Warrington on Tuesday due to a police incident.

A Cheshire Police spokesperson told Sky News reports of safety concerns for a man on an M62 bridge by Warrington came through on Tuesday afternoon.

She said: “A full closure was put in place while officers and specialist negotiators attended to the scene to engage with the man who was brought to safety and handed into the care of paramedics.”

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email [email protected], or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

References

  1. ^ motorway bridge (www.independent.co.uk)
  2. ^ M62 (www.independent.co.uk)
  3. ^ Warrington (www.independent.co.uk)