Up to one in 10 drivers ignore red X signs on motorways

Up to one in 10 drivers ignore red X signs on motorways

Up to one in 10 drivers could be fined for ignoring lane-closed motorway signs, new figures show.

According to National Highways, the percentage of drivers who obey the red X signs is “more than 90%,” indicating that nearly 10% don’t.

Since September 2022, all police forces can use surveillance cameras to track motorists who illegally drive under a red X or enter a lane behind it.

This can result in a fine of up to £100 and three penalty points, or in some cases more severe penalties and a court appearance.

Surrey Police were among the first forces to prosecute offenders caught on camera in November 2019.

New figures show that 9,427 notices of intent to prosecute have been issued since then.

Some 4,926 recipients completed a safety awareness course, while others chose alternative options such as paying a fixed fine or being heard in court.

The Roads Police Unit for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire said that on a single day in December 2018 nearly 300 vehicles fled a red X displayed on the M25 near junction 20 while emergency road works were being carried out following an accident.

One of the offending drivers took the matter to court, where he was ordered to pay a fine and costs of nearly £1,000.

He also received three penalty points.

Red X sign compliance is critical to smart highway safety.

National Highways employees turn on lane closed signs when stopped vehicles are detected in active lanes to prevent being hit from behind and to assist and protect emergency services.

Chief Constable Jo Shiner, head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council for road policing, said: “Red X-signals are in place on the motorway for your safety and the safety of others.

“Unfortunately, there are too many instances where motorists ignore a red X signal and put others in incredible danger by driving in a closed lane.

“This is unacceptable and drivers who do this must understand that they will be prosecuted.”

National Highways Traffic Officer Dave Harford said: “We do not take the decision to close lanes lightly, but when we do, drivers must comply with the closure.

“A red X signal is for the safety of all road users – including people in distress, traffic cops, ambulance and rescue services assisting them, and all other road users.”

AA President Edmund King said: “With more than a third (38%) of breakdowns on smart highways occurring in active lanes, it is important that all drivers avoid lanes with a red X as soon as possible as you never know when what dangers lie ahead.”

RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams described the proportion of drivers using closed lanes as “very worrying”.

He said: “For some time we have been concerned that red Xs on roadside signs are not nearly as clear as those on bridges directly over each lane.

“We are concerned that this could be a factor in some of the breaches.”

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