January 05, 2018 at 8:50 AM
Since December 2016, the roads operator has issued 80,000 warning letters to motorists who have not followed rules surrounding smart motorways with a third of these related to driving in closed lanes.
Smart motorways allow for all lanes, including what would typically be the hard shoulder, to be used for traffic. Emergency lay-by areas are now positioned 1.5 miles apart, meaning that there is the increased chance of vehicles running into trouble on the main carriageway. The road is monitored with a series of cameras, with a red x shown on the overhead gantry if a live lane is closed, which could be due to an accident or broken down vehicle. Highways England believes motorists ignoring the overhead gantry indicators is "dangerous" and is hoping to introduce the penalties within the next three months. The UK currently has several smart motorways; Britain currently has around 250 miles of smart motorway, including parts of the M4 and M5 around Bristol - with plans to modify another 450 miles of UK motorway.
A Highways England spokesman said: “Safety is at the heart of everything we do and our roads are among 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.”