New fines and regulations for car drivers ignoring a red X lane

The new fines may end coming through your letter box if you’re ignoring the red X, lane closure signs on new smart motorways across the country.

The road operator has revealed it’s actively testing the camera systems to detect the drivers that carry on as normal in a lane clearly marked as closed by the smart motorway gantries.

If the new system is successful and rolled out in March, it is thought the fine will be £100 and three penalty points. This puts the punishment on a par with the dangers of running a red light.

Highways England view the act of not following the signs of the new smart motorway gantries as extremely dangerous and could lead to more incidents especially if lanes are closed due to accidents or breakdowns.

They’ve been continuously sending out letters already, to warn drivers who’ve been ignoring the signs and have sent out a total of 80,000 warnings with at least a third of these relating to closed lanes.

Smart Motorway in operation following an incident with a lane closure displayed on the gantry

The new smart motorways make use of the hard shoulder during heavy traffic to ease congestion, by using the new gantry signs for each lane. When they decide to close the hard shoulder or any other lanes due to an accident or breakdown a red X is displayed above the lane. They also use the signs to regulate traffic flow by setting variable speed limits.

More and more upgrades to the existing motorway network are planned with 480 miles of motorway joining sections of the M1, M4, M5, M6 and M42 which have already been modified.

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, warned the extra capacity is “a welcome move, only so long as it can be delivered safely”.

“We need to see a redoubling of communications by Highways England to leave no doubt in motorists' minds as to what a red X sign means.”

A Highways England spokesman said: “Safety is at the heart of everything we do and our roads are among the safest in the world. We close lanes for a reason and drivers ignoring red Xs puts them and others at risk.

“Since we started issuing warning letters we have seen a decrease in the number of drivers ignoring lane closures.”