"The accident and waking up in hospital is all a blur."
A student who suffered serious injuries and whose friend was killed has revealed the dangers of so-called ‘smart motorways’.
Mohammed Bhaimia, aged 20, from Shoreditch, is still recovering from his injuries after a lorry crashed into their vehicle on the M1 near Dunstable, Bedfordshire, in December 2019.
He suffered serious fractures plus lung and liver damage after the lorry hit the back of the people carrier in which the five friends were passengers.
A lorry driver had gone into the back of their broken-down Kia Sedona in which Mohammed was a passenger.
At the time, the hard shoulder was being used as an active lane.
His friend Zahir Ahmed was killed in the collision while three others suffered serious injuries.
Mohammed spent three weeks in hospital and needs specialist rehabilitation to overcome his injuries.
He has since launched a civil case against the lorry driver’s insurers. The lorry driver, Wojciech Bukowski, was jailed for four years and eight months.
He had previously admitted causing death by dangerous driving and four counts of causing serious injury.
Mohammed revealed that it has been “incredibly difficult” coming to terms with the accident.
He explained: “The accident and waking up in hospital is all a blur. I don’t remember much of what happened in the first few days after the crash because I was sedated.
“The last few months and coming to terms with the physical and psychological impact of what happened has been incredibly difficult.”
Mohammed and his friends had been returning from Birmingham when the crash happened at 3:10 pm on December 1, 2019.
After the Kia lost power, the driver safely parked close to the hard shoulder, which was being used as an active lane.
The vehicle soon re-joined the main motorway but again lost power. It was stationary on what would have been the hard shoulder on a traditional motorway when the crash happened.
It was heard that the lorry driver was driving at 56 mph and had not applied the brakes until he hit the car, despite having eight to 10 seconds to do so.
Other drivers had managed to drive around the Kia.
The stretch of road is classed as a Dynamic Hard Shoulder Running motorway.
Mohammed suffered a broken right femur and two left-arm fractures, one from the shoulder to elbow and the other running from his wrist to elbow.
The accountancy student also suffered a broken collarbone, fractured rib as well as a bruised lung and liver.
Mohammed underwent several operations and had to catch up on his studies but was forced to give up a part-time job he had at an accountancy firm.
He has warned of the dangers of ‘smart motorways’ saying that many motorists do not realise how dangerous the layout is when a vehicle breaks down.
He added: “I was studying hard and had an ideal job at an accountancy firm where I was gaining experience.
“However, because of what happened I had to give up my job and was way behind in my studies.”
“I was determined to pass my year as I didn’t want to have to defer and lose a year. Somehow, I managed to catch up and pass which I’m really proud of.
“I just hope that by speaking out people realise how dangerous smart motorways can be. I don’t think a lot of people understand how they operate so it’s vital drivers take care at all times.
“I wouldn’t others to go through what me and my friends have.”
Serious injury lawyer Darshana Patel said: “The number of fatalities on ‘smart motorways’ is a major cause for concern.
“Their safety has been called into question by this terrible incident which claimed the life a bright and promising man and significantly impacted the lives of four friends.”