Ignoring red x sign can lead to £100 fine or points on your licence

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Drivers are being warned that ignoring the red x sign on motorways is illegal.

A new campaign has been launched by emergency services and National Highways to remind drivers that illegally passing under a red x or entering the lane beyond a red x can result in a fixed penalty fine of up to £100 and three points on your licence.

In some cases, there are much more severe penalties or even a court appearance if the enforcement cameras automatically detect your car passing under the sign.

A red x sign is put in place to close lanes when there is an obstruction on the road ahead, reports InYourArea. Cars have to abide by the signal when it is in place as it could help avoid a serious collision if there is a broken-down car stuck in a lane.

More than 90 per cent of drivers do follow this important highway rule, but thousands of people have still been prosecuted for ignoring the signs. Since the first enforcement cameras to detect red x offences were put in place by Surrey Police in 2019 there have been 9,427 first Notices of Intended Prosecution sent out by the force.

Over half of these have gone on to complete safety awareness courses, while others have selected alternative options such as paying a fine or going to court. Driving in a lane closed by a red x has been an offence for more than two decades now and the change in legislation in 2019 meant that cameras can now automatically detect vehicles breaking this rule.

Chief Constable Jo Shiner, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Roads Policing, said: “Red x signals are in place on the motorway for your safety and the safety of others. Sadly, there are too many instances 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 so need to understand they face prosecution.”

National Highways traffic officer Dave Harford, added: “We don’t take the decision to close lanes lightly, but when we do, drivers must obey the closure. A red x signal is there for the safety of everyone on the road – including people in difficulty, traffic officers, recovery and emergency services helping them, and all other road users besides.”

Red x signals are just one of a list of measures that are in place to help keep people safe if they break down on motorways.  As well as the red x signals, reduced speed limits are used often and advice for anyone who gets into trouble on a motorway is to go left.

If your vehicle has a problem, or you get into trouble on a motorway, stay calm and try to exit at the next junction or service area. If not possible:

  • Put your left indicators on.
  • Move into the left lane.
  • Enter the next emergency area, or hard shoulder.
  • Put your hazard lights on.
  • Get behind a safety barrier where there is one – keep well away from moving traffic.
  • Call National Highways on 0300 123 5000 then a breakdown provider for help.

If you are unable to exit your vehicle and get to a safe place, have stopped in a live traffic lane or feel your life is in danger:

  • Stay in your vehicle with your seatbelts and hazard lights on
  • Call 999 immediately or press the SOS button in your car.

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