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A new report by National Highways has found that almost one in 10 drivers ignore the “Red X” mark on motorway gantries.

This is despite the fact that those who are caught in a Red X lane can expect to receive a fixed penalty of up to £100 and three points on their licence. In more severe cases, this can even be escalated to court.

Red X signs are used to close motorway lanes obstructed by accidents or broken-down vehicles and are particularly important in protecting drivers stranded in active lanes of smart motorways.

As a result of this report, National Highways is working together with emergency services to spread more awareness to the public about the risks of ignoring Red X signals.

Surrey Police stated that they’ve sent out 9,429 first Notices of Intended Prosecution concerning Red X offences since November 2019. As a result, almost 5,000 drivers have been made to complete a safety awareness course, with others receiving fixed penalties and court hearings.

Simon Williams, a road safety spokesman at the RAC, said: “This is a very worrying statistic. For some time, we’ve been concerned that Red Xs displayed on signs at the side of the road aren’t nearly as clear as those positioned on gantries directly above each lane.

“We fear this may be a factor in some of the non-compliance. For this reason, it would be helpful to know drivers’ reasons for not obeying Red Xs. If it’s the case that drivers say they hadn’t seen or understood signs at the side of the road then there may be an argument for installing more expensive gantry signage.

“It’s critical drivers obey the Red X as it’s often the first line of defence for anyone stranded in a live lane of smart motorway traffic.”

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