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Automatic points and fines for drivers who ignore motorway red X lane closures

Published 16 May 2019

Drivers in England who ignore smart motorway lane red X closures could soon be punished with automatic points and fines, under new laws. 

Drivers who ignore red X signs will face £100 fines and three penalty points as part of new rules to automatically enforce motorway lane closures. 

It is already illegal to ignore a lane closure on the motorway, but the police can only act against drivers caught in the act. From late-summer, thousands of overhead cameras that are installed on hundreds of miles of smart motorway across England will be used to catch drivers who ignore the rules.

The law change follows a type approval from the Home Office for camera upgrades and a period of testing. Highways England says that red Xs are used to signify closed lanes on motorways, to protect drivers in difficulty, or when road workers and emergency services need a safe space to work.

"We welcome this auto-enforcement and the increase to driver safety it will bring," said Highways England spokesperson Mike Wilson. 

“Most drivers comply with lane closures, but the minority of people who don’t are putting themselves and other road users at real risk. We welcome this auto-enforcement and the increase to driver safety it will bring.”

Speaking to ITV, AA president Edmund King, said the law change was a "welcome measure to improve safety".

He added: “Our research shows that one in 20 drivers continue to drive in red X lanes even when they’ve seen it, and so far Highways England have written warning letters to over 180,000 drivers about their actions."


Engineer Andy    2 days ago

About time, as long as the sign are kept up-to-date: quite often the matrix signs aren't.

gavsmit    2 days ago

Sounds good in theory, but will no doubt earn extra revenue from good drivers that are just a victim of circumstance and yet another naïve and poorly thought out road penalty system.

1) I've witnessed the variable speed limits shown on these signs sometimes reduce suddenly from national to 40mph despite no traffic congestion or signs of a problem - then go back to national on the next bank of signs for no reason, sometimes almost causing accidents themselves as people slow down dramatically for the signs in fear of being fined. Maybe human error, maybe a technical problem, but will this happen with the red crosses too, thus issue fines for no reason?
2) I was travelling along the M25 a few weeks ago when all but the inside lane began to become congested. As I was leaving the M25 at the next junction, and the nearside lane is a filter lane for that junction, I continued at a safe speed in that lane whilst the others ground to a halt. Signs passed overhead not showing any problems or red crosses. Then a red cross appeared on the sign approaching in the distance, not far before my junction. Of course no-one was going to let me join one of the congested lanes to my right, and with an impatient motorist right up my backside as he didn't like the safe speed I was travelling at, I would've been in an accident trying to get out of that lane to join the congested ones anyway. Also my junction was in sight now anyway, with no obvious reasons or obstructions as to why the red cross was in place for that lane leading off the motorway. So I suppose I'd be fined for that now these are being switched on, but all I did was apply common sense and avoided an accident that could've happened due to poor management of road signs and other, bad, drivers.

Palcouk    2 days ago

My experience of matrix signs, prior to my retirement, when I was driveing +30k/year was that they showed problems when none existed. Or had not been updated/turned off when the problem had been resolved.
And if a Transport spokesmen states that they are automaticaly trigered and turned off I simply dont believe them, or that their IT systems are so badly designed that they are not fit for purpose.
I think the latter is probably more correct judging by my experiences with HMRC on-line services.

TQ    2 days ago

Motorway overhead signs are often out of sync with conditions on the road. I often see lane closures for no apparent reason. I also notice that motorway patrol with amber lights flashing on their 4X4 cars cause delays for no reason other than just being there !

On the issue of fines: Cars are a pain and I support every measure to help make motoring more expensive and thereby reduce the numbers. I drive but more often than not walk or cycle.

conman    19 hours ago

The M60 around Manchester is a prime example of badly trained operators. Many times I have used the motorway and signs are posted for 60mph, 50mph, 40mph for no apparent reason. Pedestrians in carriage way is another message, best yet was a speed limit shown for 40mph on the motorway reason breakdown on the slip road.. The slip road has a hard shoulder and on passing no sign of any vehicle. It has now reached a stage where most drivers ignore the signs. Not me of course.

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