Driving down a closed red X sign lane has been classed as an offence since 2018


According to new research, 23% of drivers in the UK admit to driving in a closed smart motorway lane despite being warned by a red X sign that the lane is not to be used.

The RAC Opinion Panel polled 2,093 of its members, with around one fifth confessing to driving in a smart motorway lane that was closed using a red X sign.

From these, 19% admitted to only doing it occasionally by accident, whilst 1% said they’d done it quite often but not on purpose, whereas 3% confessed to doing it occasionally but knew they were doing it.

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Around one fifth of motorists in the UK admit to ignoring red X signs on smart motorway despite it being an offence. © Copyright Highways England

These figures are in spite of the fact that motorists seem to know and understand what the red X is for, as 99% said they know it means a lane is closed and you can’t drive in it, whilst 84% who had driven on a motorway during the past year said they’d seen one.

When questioned about what the first thing they do is when they see a red X sign, 87% said they crossed into another lane as soon as it was safe to move, whilst 13% confessed to staying in the lane and going past a few more of the signs before moving lane.

However, this was called into question because 48% of those taking part in the survey said they often noticed other drivers ignoring the red X signs, with 36% saying they see it sometimes, whereas just 7% said they never see it at all.

A staggering 66% of those taking part said they liked the idea of cameras being used to enforce red X signs, whilst the other 34% were against it.

It’s been an offence to drive in a closed smart motorway lane since 2018, however Highways England said in summer 2018 that they were waiting for Home Office approval for cameras to be used in order to automatically enforce so-called red X offences.

Whilst waiting though, the company have issued over 160,000 warning letters over the past two years to drivers who’ve either ignored a red X sign or used a section of hard shoulder when not in use as a running lane.


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