Motorists face a concerted push over enforcement of ‘Red X’ lane closures on smart motorways from this spring and could be hit with fines of £100, according to new reports.
The Press Association has reported that a roll-out of an enforcement penalty system is expected in March and it is thought drivers will face a similar penalty to that handed out for running a red light – £100 and three penalty points.
A Highways England document reveals the Government-owned road operator is testing roadside cameras, which detect when drivers ignoring red X signs on overhead gantries banning drivers from specific lanes, the news outlet reported.
It is already an offence not to comply with a Red X signal and if a driver were to ignore one, the police could issue a fixed penalty notice.
However Highways England and police have focused on issuing warning letters to drivers for Red X and hard shoulder lane offences since November 2016.
Around 80,000 warning letters have been issued, a Highways England spokesperson said and claimed there had been a reduction in the number of repeat offenders and an increase in awareness of the Red X signals.
Highways England is considering the use of existing infrastructure to identify non-compliance so that police could take any action deemed necessary. The details on this are still being worked through and finalised, Highways understands.
A Highways England spokesperson said: ‘Safety is at the heart of everything we do and our roads are amongst the safest in the world. We close lanes for a reason and drivers ignoring Red Xs puts them and others at risk. Since we started issuing warning letters we have seen a decrease in the number of drivers ignoring lane closures.’
Red X compliance, and the public’s awareness of the rules, has been a long running issue for Highways England, with the watchdog Transport Focus calling on the operator to up its game and clarify the situation.