Following recent changes to smart motorways, there has been an update to the Highway Code which addresses how you could be fined by ignoring lane closures.

Changes have been made to the Highway Code which reflect recent changes to motorway rules in the UK. The updates take smart motorway rules and signs into account, including what red X lane closures represent – as well as general sets of rules which drivers must adhere to. On June 10th there was a change which means drivers caught ignoring a road closure on a smart motorway would be fined. Motorists who offend could be fined £100 and land three penalty points on their license.

Red Xs are displayed on the gantry above the motorway to signal a lane closure, on a smart motorway these gantries also display the current speed limit in place on the road at the current time. If there is no congestion or any accidents, then the national speed limit of 70mph will usually apply – however variable speed limits of 30, 40, 50 or 60mph limits could be in place as well as lanes closed off.

Usually lanes are closed off to allow emergency service vehicles to get to an accident more easily, as well as if there are debris on the road from an accident.

The Highway Code has now been updated to reflect these changes. Rule 258 of the Code now states “Red flashing lights. If red lights flash on a signal and a red X is showing, you MUST not drive in the lane shown as closed beyond the signal. This applies until you pass another signal indicating the lane is no longer closed by displaying the word “End” or a speed limit sign and you are sure that it is safe to proceed.

“Red flashing lights. If red lights flash on a signal in the central reservation or on the right side of the road and lane closed sign is showing, you MUST NOT go beyond the signal in any lane.”

The updated Highway code features MUST NOT when it represents a legal obligation to the motorist. Some rules in the Code use advisory terminology sch as “should not” and is therefore not a legal requirement. Police forces have been automatically issuing fines using camera footage obtained from the overhead gantries.

Currently there are 300 miles of smart motorway in Britain, but this is thought to rise to over 800 miles in the coming years.