Drivers still ignoring red X's as Highways England awaits green light on cameras

07/03/2019
Chris Ames

New research from the RAC has found that more than a fifth of motorists have driven in a lane closed by the red X sign in the past year.

Highways England welcomed the study and confirmed that it is still awaiting 'the relevant approvals from government' to use cameras to enforce red X and similar offences.

The RAC said that with hundreds of miles of smart motorways across England now using the hard shoulder as either a permanent or part-time running lane, drivers ignoring red X’s are are potentially putting lives at risk.

It said that 23% of drivers surveyed admitted to having broken this ‘rule of the road’ by disregarding the red X, either ‘occasionally accidentally’ (19%), ‘often accidentally’ (1%) or ‘occasionally on purpose’ (3%).

Nearly all (99%) correctly understood that the sign signifies that the lane is closed. For 87%, their first action is to move, when safe to do so, into another lane which is not closed while the remainder (13%) say they change lanes as soon as they possibly can but admit they might pass ‘one or two’ red X signs before doing so.

Nearly half (48%) of those questioned said they frequently saw drivers driving through the signs and more than a third (36%) said they saw this occasionally, with only 7% saying they do not see drivers ignoring red X signs.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: ‘Smart motorways are now very much part of the fabric of England’s motorway network and will become even more commonplace in years to come with more being opened all the time.

‘Red X signs are paramount in safety terms as any stricken driver who has not managed to reach an SOS area is at tremendous risk of being involved in a collision with vehicles that ignore them. It is also extremely dangerous if road workers or emergency service staff are attending to incident in the road.’

The RAC acknowledged that Highways England has been working to improve compliance with red X signs and issued more than 160,000 warning letters to drivers who had either used sections of hard shoulder when not designated as a running lane or had failed to comply with a red X.

However: it remains unclear why red X offences cannot be prosecuted on the basis of evidence from a remote or automated device such as a gantry-mounted camera.

The RAC pointed out that in 2017 the Government amended the Road Traffic Offenders Act to allow this but said that 'legislation still has to be completed before the technology can be used in enforcement'.

Highways England said it was 'still awaiting the relevant approvals from government in order to commence with automatic enforcement', while the Home Office said it was 'working towards providing type approval for the relevant technology'.

A Highways England spokesperson said: ‘We welcome the research from the RAC which, along with our own, supports and reminds drivers of the dangers of ignoring a Red X, and what to do if they come across one.

‘Most drivers are making the right decision when faced with a lane closed by a red X and the work we have done to date has seen improvements in compliance levels nationally; meanwhile we have an ongoing programme of activities to help ensure this trend continues.’

Highways jobs

Director, Governance and Improvement

City of York Council
£87,623 to £97,149
We are looking for an exceptional individual to be appointed to the position of Director of Governance and Improvement. York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of York Council

Chief Fire Officer

West Sussex County Council
Competitive Salary plus Financial Support for Recruitment and Retention
We are looking for an exceptional individual who can lead our Fire & Rescue Service Chichester, West Sussex
Recuriter: West Sussex County Council

Inspector / Senior Inspector

City of Bradford MDC
£21,166 - £31,371 pa
This is an opportunity to join the Highway Maintenance team who have responsibility for maintenance of around 2,000km of adopted road network. Bradford, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of Bradford MDC

Traffic Management Operative/Foreman

Balfour Beatty
Competitive
Are you a Traffic Management Operative/Foreman with Highspeed (12AB) Qualifications, looking for a new and exciting opportunity? If so read on..... Leatherhead, Surrey
Recuriter: Balfour Beatty

Senior Team Leader

Redbridge London Borough Council
£35,992 to £38,994 per annum inclusive
Looking for individuals with initiative, evidence of experience in managing a street cleansing service and motivating... Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Road Safety Engineer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£21,589 - £31,371
We are looking for a candidate who can participate in developing and delivering technically sound highway engineering solutions. Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Information Management Officer x 2 Jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£24,799 - £26,317
Looking for better and smarter ways to operate and you will play a key role working across a broad range of service... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Graduate Engineer

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£24,313 - £28,785 per annum
This is an exciting new opportunity in the Highway Services team to play a pivotal role in creating a safe and... Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

School Crossing Patrol

Brent Council
£21,591 - £22,377 p.a. inc. pro rata.
Looking for someone that is friendly, has great communication skills and enjoys working with children. Wembley, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Engineer (Highway Design)

Darlington Borough Council
£31,371 - £33,799
Looking to employ an experienced person within the Highway Design team to meet the challenge of enabling development... Darlington, Durham
Recuriter: Darlington Borough Council

Project Manager – Major Maintenance and Infrastructure Projects 

Liverpool City Council
£42,683 - £47,491 
The successful candidate will ensure that effective procurement and delivery of highways maintenance and improvement. Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Council

Green Space Development Manager

Camden London Borough Council
£45,504 - £52,786
The successful candidate will join a dynamic, multi-disciplinary team and contribute to our commitment to deliver for... Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Green Space Project Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£40,829 - £47,360
The successful candidate will join a dynamic, multi-disciplinary team and contribute to our commitment to deliver for the people of Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Senior Principal Planning Officer - Fixed Term

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£39.774 - £42.684
Looking for key members of the team that will be instrumental in transforming the Borough and opportunities available for residents.  Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Career Grade Planner

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£27228 - £36711
In this role you will deal primarily with small-scale planning applications covering a wide range of planning issues. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Career Grade Planning Officer

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£27.228 - £36.711
We offer a great opportunity to develop your career with a positive approach to development and a desire to put... Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Director of Place and Communities

Ashfield District Council
£79,070
As the Director for Place and Communities you will provide strategic and operational leadership across a range of key services including Waste... Nottinghamshire
Recuriter: Ashfield District Council

Highways Operative - 3 Jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£18,426 - £21,166 (plus 20% enhancement if working in the night team)
You will be responsible for providing effective maintenance and development of the Kirklees road network carrying out a range of highway works. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Rights of Way Officer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£26,470 - £28,221
The purpose of the role is to implement and advise on the maintenance, protection, improvement and promotion of access... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Road Safety and Sustainable Transport Assistant

Telford & Wrekin Council
£11.41 - £12.35 per hour
Are you passionate about Road Safety, and want to help educate road users and develop their skills? Wrekin, Telford
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Download your Highways App

Google App Apple App

Highways on Fridays

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Smart Mobility Special

New roads, new rules

Big Interview: Jim O'Sullivan

View the latest issue

Latest Video