Motorway driving laws are set to change in 2018 with new fines set to be introduced
New driving laws on smart motorways are set to be introduced in Spring 2018 and could see drivers who ignore them face fines and penalties. Here’s everything you need to know about the law change:
Motorists using smart motorways will be aware that the fourth lane can be opened or closed at any time.
The hard shoulder can be opened to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion but closed again in the event of an accident.
Smart motorways also operate with a variable speed limit which ranges between 40 and 70mph depending on weather or traffic conditions.
Highways England is, however, concerned that drivers are ignoring the red X closure sign which they deem to be “dangerous.”
It has issued 80,000 warning letters to drivers who have broken smart motorways laws since 2016.
Of these a third relate to ignoring closed lane warnings and proceeding to drive in them.
In an attempt to combat this, the Home Office is trialling road-side cameras which could automatically detect violations.
Drivers can “expect enforcement of red X offences to commence from spring 2018,” revealed a document issued by the government-owned company towards the end of December 2017.
While it is currently illegal to drive in a closed motorway or dual carriageway lane, motorists still seem to be getting away with it on smart motorways.
The offence falls under the category of driving without due car or attention or dangerous or reckless driving.
Driving without due care and attention carries a penalty of either a disqualification, for between three and nine penalty points.
An on the spot fine of £100 can be issued to drivers caught doing this, which can rise up to £2,500 depending on the nature and severity of the incident.
A fixed penalty of £100 and three penalty points is a likely punishment set to be introduced in a bid to deter drivers.
No definitive release date for the new punishments and penalties have been confirmed but they will be coming in the Spring time.
Sections of the M1, M4, M5, M6 and M42 have already been modified, with 480 lane miles being added to England’s motorway network.
A Highways England spokesman said: “Safety is at the heart of everything we do and our roads are among the safest in the world.
“We close lanes for a reason and drivers ignoring the red Xs puts them and others at risk.
“Since we started issuing warning letters we have seen a decrease in the number of drivers ignoring lane closures.”