A red’ X’ sign displayed above a motorway lane indicates that a driver is prohibited from driving in that lane. The Highways Agency over the last 5 years has used these red ‘X’ signs on smart motorways to manage traffic around an obstruction in the lane.
Drivers failing to comply with traffic signs are guilty of an offence contrary to s36 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and regulations 10 and 38 of the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002. The penalty for the offence is fixed at a £100 fine and endorsement of 3 penalty points. Until Monday 10th June 2019 these penalties were issued by the police, but now are issued automatically to drivers’ caught breaking the law by the enforcement cameras.
Paragraph 258 of the Highway Code clearly states ‘if red lights on the overhead signals flash above your lane and a red ‘X’ is showing, you MUST NOT go beyond the signal in that lane’. Nevertheless 23% of 2093 drivers surveyed by the RAC in March 2019 admit to having broken this rule.
In all likelihood, the change in enforcement will lead to a significant increase in penalties being issued to drivers who break this law. Payment of a fixed penalty notice will avoid court proceedings, but ignoring or rejecting a fixed penalty will result in the case being referred to the Magistrates Court.
So next time you are driving on one of the UK’s smart motorways and become aware of the enforcement cameras flashing around you, you might want to check your lane as well as your speed.