Some are even waiting until they reach an incident before changing lanes, putting their own, and the lives of other drivers, at risk.
Motorway lanes might be closed for a number of reasons, including an accident or breakdown, a person or animal in the road, to provide a safe refuge for road workers, or to allow the emergency services to reach the scene of an incident.
The message is simple: stay out of the motorway lane if the red ‘X’ is displayed. Anyone caught ignoring a red ‘X’ could be issued with a £100 fine and three points on their licence.
Highways England has released CCTV footage showing a car narrowly avoiding a collision with a lorry as the driver changes lane on the M60 near Whitefield. The driver had chosen to ignore the red ‘X’ sign and was forced to take drastic action to avoid hitting two traffic officers assisting the driver of a broken-down vehicle.
Traffic officer Ben Cookson is based at Highways England’s Milnrow depot and was one of the officers who responded to the incident. He said:
“We’d done everything we could to keep everyone safe by stopping behind the broken-down car with our emergency lights flashing, putting out an incident sign and displaying red Xs to close the lane but there were still drivers leaving it until the last few seconds before pulling in.
“It does make you bite your nails when you see something like that and you always have to have one eye on what’s going on behind you to stay safe while you’re trying to deal with an incident.
“My job is to keep the roads moving safely, so I’d urge any drivers who don’t take notice of red X signs to think about the impact it would have on their own and other people’s lives if they were involved in a collision. Red Xs are always displayed for a reason so it’s just not worth the risk of ignoring them.”
A few weeks ago, statistics showed that 25 percent of RAC members have driven under a red ‘X’ sign on smart motorways.