Drivers face automatic £100 fines for ignoring new smart motorway signs – ‘concerning’

Smart motorways: AA President reacts to suspension of rollout

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Anybody who ignores the “red X” signs on the motorway and continues to drive in these lanes will face the penalty. Police could now issue fines without having to spot drivers committing an offence, as was previously the case.

Almost 100 smart motorway cameras will be upgraded to enable automatic detection of vehicles breaching red X rules by September.

National Highways said: “By the end of September 2022 drivers will almost always be able to see a sign informing them of the distance to the next place to stop in an emergency.”

The Government agency also said the upgraded cameras are designed to increase compliance with the red X.

This will help 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 were originally introduced in England in 2014 as a way of increasing capacity compared with widening carriageways.

Smart motorways have come under fire in recent months after the Government announced a pause on the project to address safety fears in January.

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It said it would need to gather more evidence over the safety of the smart roads before continuing with the roll out.

In response to the National Highways update on smart motorways, Edmund King, President of the AA, said it was positive to see progress, but they should have never been rolled out to start with.

He added: “The latest data backs up why we called continuously for more ERAs and better radar systems.

“The five-year average shows that when a vehicle is stopped in a live lane of any form of smart motorway, it is worse across all safety metrics when compared to a motorway with a permanent hard shoulder. 

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“We have seen progress with 100-mile roll out of Stopped Vehicle Detection but a recent serious incident on the M3, where a bridge seems to have prevented the radar working, reminds us that it is not infallible.

“Last month, more than eight out of 10 drivers told us they would find breaking down on a smart motorway a stressful experience compared to just 57 percent who would be stressed breaking down on a motorway with a permanent hard shoulder. 

“This clearly shows that most drivers are still not convinced that removing the hard shoulder is a smart move. We will continue monitoring and pressing for improvements.”

Around 45 percent of motorists admit they would not know what to do if they broke down on a smart motorway.

Almost a third of respondents to a GoCompare survey said they themselves would not drive on a smart motorway, and half do not like the idea of their family and friends driving on them.

Ryan Fulthorpe, car insurance expert at GoCompare, said: “This report shows there is an obvious need for further education on smart motorways across all ages. 

“Realising that nearly half of those we asked don’t know what to do if they break down was incredibly concerning.

“Many were also unaware of key regulations that, if used incorrectly, could lead to serious accidents.

“The fact that the majority of road users don’t believe smart motorways are a positive improvement to our roads shows that something needs to change before the rollout continues across the UK. 

“A substantial driver education campaign must be carried out to ensure British motorists know how they work, and most importantly, how to navigate them safely.”

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