Smart Motorways - What does it all mean?

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A couple of weeks ago I was driving South bound on the M1 and was probably around Junction 25. There was quite a big accident on the North bound carriageway involving what looked like 2 HGV’s and two or three cars. The emergency services were present and they were just starting to let the traffic filter past the incident. The Smart Motorway was in full swing with the speed limit reduced to 40 or 50mph.

There was a HADECS camera attached to a gantry a hundred metres or so past the incident and as I was approaching it could see it happily being triggered. In the space of 60 seconds I counted about 12 flashes from this camera – BOOM, 6 drivers caught in that short space of time. Drivers were obviously impatient, had been waved past the incident and had accelerated up to 60 or 70, completely oblivious that the camera was there and that the reduced speed limit was still operational. I wonder how many drivers were caught that afternoon. A Road Angel would have saved the drivers the pain of receiving the dreaded letter through the post!!! Readers bear this in mind!!

Currently I can’t find any statistics which detail how many drivers are breaking mandatory speed limits within a Smart Motorway. That’s not to say the report doesn’t exist, it just means I haven’t found it yet.

But what about drivers who ignore the Smart Motorway instructions? – particularly the big red ‘X’s.

It may be common knowledge or maybe not, but these signs are monitored by cameras. Yes, the authorities can see who is ignoring those big red ‘X’ signs. So, what do these signs actually mean?

The big red X means that the lane has an obstruction in it and you are not allowed to use it. Very simple to most of us but drivers are still ignoring it and putting themselves and others involved at risk, by ignoring it. I see it frequently on my trips to and from the office.

What is being done to catch these individuals who think they know better? The RAC say this:

Drivers who ignore warning signs on smart motorways will now be slapped with an automatic fine and points on their licence.

Police now have the power to punish those who drive in closed lanes on smart motorways, under Home Office legislation recently brought in from June 10.

New traffic cameras will catch drivers using lanes marked with red ‘X’ signs, with offenders facing a £100 fine and three penalty points.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes welcomes the move, adding that RAC research shows too many motorists still ignore red X signs, whether deliberately or not.

The announcement comes after recent RAC research showed nearly a quarter of motorists still put lives at risk by ignoring the ‘red X’ signs on smart motorways.

Around half of drivers said they frequently see other drivers ignoring the signs, despite 99% of respondents aware that they indicate a closed lane.