Smart motorways: Why the red ‘X’ is so important
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Smart motorways will be upgraded with cameras to catch out any motorist who drives through a closed lane marked with a red x. The agency warns road users will receive a fixed penalty of £100 if they are caught and will have three points issued on their driving licence.
A live Twitter poll organised by Highways England has found around nine in ten road users do understand it is illegal to drive under a red x. It means one in ten road users could risk being caught out with the installation of new technology. In a social media statement, Highways England said: "Existing HEDECS (Highways England Digital Enforcement and Compliance System) cameras used for speed enforcement has been upgraded to also detect red X offences. "They have been upgraded with software that automatically detects the offence."
Motorists could be fined £100 for making this mistake (Image: PA)
New cameras will be installed in stages (Image: Birmingham Live)
In a later comment, Highways England revealed the new cameras were being rolled out in stages across the country. They added: "The go-live process is being rolled out across the country. Around a third of the yellow speed cameras (on smart motorways) have already been upgraded to detect offences. “For the integrity of enforcement, we can’t disclose individual locations of upgraded cameras." One motorist claimed he had seen two of these on a stretch of the M1 motorway between Junction 1 and Junction 10.
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Beds, Cambs and Herts Road Policing teams confirmed hundreds of prosecutions have been made since the introduction of variable matrix enforcement gantries. In a social media post, a Highways England traffic officer confirmed there would always be warning signs fitted before a red X to allow motorists time to get into position. The officer said: "Before a red X signal there will be prior signage in the form of lane diverts. "These are set far enough back so traffic has time to move over safely and in good time before contravening the red X and potential obstruction ahead."
Social media users were shocked at the poll results after several motorists claimed they regularly saw motorists breaking the rules and passing through the closed lanes.
Cameras will soon be able to automatically detect offenders (Image: Getty)
Research conducted by the RAC last year found almost a quarter of motorists put their lives at risk by ignoring the signs. Around half of road users claimed to see other road users regularly ignoring the signs and breaking the law. The RAC study found two-thirds of road users were in favour of cameras being installed on the roads to catch offenders. RAC head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes said: "Giving the police the ability to use cameras to catch drivers flouting the law is a necessary next step – and is something our research tells us a majority of drivers are supportive of. "The simple message for drivers is this – as soon as you see a red X sign, move over into an open lane safely."
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