New motorway driving law, in force from 10th June 2019, brings penalty points and fines for drivers ignoring motorway lane closures on smart motorways. Defence lawyer, Harvinder Hear looks at the changes and consequences for drivers who don’t abide by the new motorway driving law.
Red X lane closure enforcement
New Home Office legislation will allow Highways England to use cameras to catch drivers ignoring red X signs and issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs). Motorists will be handed a £100 fine and three penalty points for ignoring the rules.
Motorway lane closures are displayed by means of a red ‘X’ on the electronic gantries, which are located overhead on smart motorways. Smart motorways cover large stretches of major routes such as the M1, M6 and M25. Lanes can be closed for a number of reasons such as an accident, broken down vehicle, roadworks, or to let emergency service vehicles thorough to attend an accident quickly.
Previous rules only allowed FPNs to be issued if a police officer actually caught the driver in the red X lane. This was becoming less likely with the falling numbers of road traffic officers in the UK.
Support for the new motorway driving law
Mike Wilson, chief highways engineer at Highways England, commented: “Our motorways are already among the safest in the world but this move will make them even safer.”
The new motorway driving law has also been welcomed by motorists’ groups. Edmund King, AA president, said: “Although it has taken far too long, this is a welcome measure to improve safety on motorways. Red Xs are put up to warn of an obstruction, so drivers must get out of the lane when they see them. We have had several incidents recently where AA members’ cars have been hit in a live lane on ‘smart’ motorways.”
An RAC survey in March 2019 indicated that over 20% of drivers admitted to having ignored a red X sign, either accidentally or on purpose.
Since the beginning of 2017, Highways England has issued warning letters to over 180,000 drivers who have ignored red X signs.
Motoring Law experts
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