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Smart motorway WARNING – The rule you may not be aware of that could land you £2,500 fine


Smart motorway

Smart motorway speeding cameras are always switched on meaning drivers can be fined (Image: GETTY)

Earlier this year, Highways England commissioned some analysis which found that as many as 20 per cent of cars and vehicles were driving through the red X signs used on smart motorways.

According to the report, between junctions 5 and 7 of the M25 up to one in five drivers failed to comply with the use of red X’s to close a lane in the year to April 201.

Non-compliance with the rules ranged from from 0 to 14 vehicles per minute (0 per cent to 20 per cent).

On a smart motorway, the red X indicated that a lane is closed, due to it there not the necessity to have it open, or an accident has taken place or that maintenance is ongoing.

Drivers ignoring these lame closures are putting other road users at risk, as they may collide into a stranded vehicle.

Highways England has sent out 130,000 warning letters over the past two years to motorways used who have failed to used these lanes appropriately.

Earlier this year it was announced that that automatic fines could introduced for drivers flouting the rule, however, the agency is still waiting Home Office approval this specific camera equipment.

If the proposal gets approved then drivers could be fined £100 for the offence.

Jamie Hassall, Highways England’s national compliance co-ordinator, said, “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.”

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, commented, “Too many drivers who wouldn’t think of running a red traffic light still seem to treat the Red X as an advisory rather than a mandatory signal, used to protect their safety.

“Highways England can get so far with information campaigns, but that advice and encouragement needs to be backed up by statutory enforcement and stiff penalties for those intent on putting themselves and others at risk”

One fine that drivers can immediately face is for speeding on a smart motorway.

Smart motorway red x

Red Xs signify a lane closure on a smart motorway (Image: GETTY)

Earlier this year it was revealed in new research that more fines were being handed out than ever on smart motorways where the speed limit and been reduced from 70 mph to 50 mph.

A total of 72,348 people were fined on motorways with variable speed limits in 2017, a tenfold rise in five years.

Fines for speeding range form a £100 fine and three penalty points up to £2,500.

There is a cap of £1,000 on minor speeding offences or up to £2,500 for major ones.

Some motorists may not be aware that even when the speed limit is not visible on the gantry of a smart motorway, it is still being enforced.

Drivers could, therefore, be caught out and unknowingly land fines.

Charges are broken down into three different bands which determine how a motorist is fined and are calculated on a percentage basis. 

A minor offence constitutes a band A charge. Band A charges are for drivers who exceed the stated speed limit between one and 10mph. 

So, if a driver travels 31mph up to 40mph in a 30mph zone, they can be charged between 25 per cent and 75 per cent of their weekly income. 

Drivers who exceed the stated speed limit between 11mph and 20mph will be charged between 75 per cent and 125 per cent of their wage.

Major offences, which are for breaches of 22mph and above, could see drivers charged between 125 per cent and 175 per cent of their weekly wage. 

Variable amounts of penalty points can also be issued based on the offence. 

Band A offenders can receive three penalty points on their licence, band B drivers can land themselves between four and six points, while band C offences carry a six penalty point charge.

For any motorist who has held their licence for less than two years, a band C offence is enough for them to lose their licence and face an immediate driving ban.



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