Up to one in 10 drivers ignore red Xs on highways

As many as one in 10 drivers risk being ticketed for ignoring lane closed signs on highways, new figures suggest.

National Highways said the proportion of drivers complying with red X signs is “over 90%”, indicating that nearly 10% do not.

Since September 2022, all police forces have been able to use police cameras to prosecute motorists who illegally pass under a red X or enter a lane past one.

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

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

The new figures show that it has issued 9,427 Notices of Intentional Prosecution since then.

Some 4,926 beneficiaries completed a security awareness course, and others selected alternative options, such as paying a flat fine or taking the matter to court.

The Highways Policing Unit covering Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire said almost 300 vehicles were seen contravening a red X displayed on the M25 near junction 20 on a single day in December 2018 while emergency roadworks were underway. after an accident.

One of the offending drivers challenged the matter in court, where he was ordered to pay a fine and costs amounting to almost £1,000.

He also received three penalty points.

Compliance with red X signs is critical to safety on smart highways.

National Highways personnel turn on lane closed signs when stopped vehicles are detected in live lanes to prevent them from being rear-ended and to assist and protect emergency services.

Police Chief Jo Shiner, National Police Chiefs Council leader for highway policing, said: “Red X signs are posted on the highway for your safety and the safety of others.

“Unfortunately, there are far too many cases where motorists fail to comply with a red X signal and put others in incredible danger by driving in a closed lane.

“This is unacceptable and drivers who do this need to understand that they are facing prosecution.”

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

“There is a red X sign for the safety of everyone on the road, including people in distress, traffic officers, recovery and emergency services helping them, and all other road users as well.”

AA Chairman Edmund King said: “As more than a third (38%) of breakdowns on smart highways occur in active lanes, it is critical that all drivers avoid lanes with a red X as soon as possible, since you never know what danger there may be. is coming.”

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

He said: “We have been concerned for some time that the red X’s displayed on roadside signs are not as clear as those affixed to the gantries directly above each lane.

“We fear this could be a factor in some of the breaches.”

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