Drivers face automatic £100 fine for ignoring smart motorway rule as cameras upgraded
Drivers who flout 'red X' lane closures on smart motorways could now be hit with an automatic £100 fine as safety cameras are upgraded.
The improved cameras are able to detect vehicles ignoring the X and police could issue fines without having to spot drivers in the act, as was the case previously, the Manchester Evening News reported.
Almost 100 smart motorway cameras will be upgraded to enable automatic detection of vehicles breaching red X rules by September, National Highways said.
There will also be more signs giving the distance to the next place to stop in the event of a mechanical problem or emergency.
National Highways said the cameras upgrade is designed to increase compliance with the red X, helping to ensure the safety of drivers and their passengers in difficulty, or road workers and emergency services who need a safe space to work.
It also said it is on track to complete the roll-out of radar-based technology that can spot a stopped or broken-down vehicle on over 200 miles of All Lane Running (ALR) motorway by the end of September 2022.
Smart motorways without a hard shoulder have been developed to create more space on busiest roads – improving the flow of freight around the county and ensuring people can get where they need to be as quickly and reliably as possible.
They are fitted with technology and features not seen on conventional motorways such as emergency areas (EAs) set-back from the carriageway, radar-based Stopped Vehicle Detection (SVD) and Red X signals on gantries to close live lanes.
National Highways said new analysis published on Thursday shows "that overall, in terms of serious or fatal casualties, smart motorways are the safest roads on the strategic road network".
It also indicates that the risk of a collision between moving vehicles is lower on ALR and Dynamic Hard Shoulder (DHS) motorways – where the hard shoulder operates only part-time – than conventional motorways.
Some drivers and other organisations have raised concerns about smart motorways and, in particular, the risk of breaking down in a live lane.
A very small proportion of total journeys on any road result in live lane breakdowns and National Highways said it recognises this is the main concern drivers have about smart motorways.
In January, the Department for Transport halted the development of new smart motorways without a hard shoulder until five years of safety data has been collected for schemes introduced before 2020.
This followed a report by the Transport Select Committee in November 2021 which said there was not enough information to justify continuing with new projects.
Smart motorways feature various methods to manage the flow of traffic, including using the hard shoulder as a live running lane and variable speed limits.
They were introduced in England in 2014 as a cheaper way of increasing capacity compared with widening carriageways.