SELFISH motorists who drive in closed lanes on the motorway highlighted with a ‘red X’ will face prosecution.
Emergency services have joined forces with National Highways to remind drivers not to ignore the safety symbol.
Enforcement cameras can now be used to automatically detect vehicles passing illegally under an X or entering the lane beyond one, which can result in a fixed penalty of up to £100 and three points or, in some cases, more severe penalties or a court appearance.
The X is used to close lanes when an obstruction such as a broken-down vehicle is detected in the road ahead. Abiding by the signal is vital to avoid a potentially serious collision.
The majority of drivers – more than 90 per cent – comply with the X, although thousands have been prosecuted for not doing so.
An incident on the M6 in Cheshire last month saw police slam motorists for ‘flying’ up to the scene of an accident in a closed red X lane.
Chief constable Jo Shiner, the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for roads policing, said: “Red X signals are in place on the motorway for your safety and the safety of others.
“Sadly, there are too many instances where motorists fail to comply with an X signal and put others in incredible danger by driving in a closed lane.
“This is unacceptable, and drivers who do so need to understand they face prosecution.”
Martin Flaherty OBE, managing director of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, commented: “It is important to remember that 999 ambulances on blue lights may be trying to reach critically ill patients on motorway lanes where red X signals are in force, for example after a serious road traffic collision.
“If those lanes are blocked by drivers who should not be there, ambulance crews could be delayed in reaching patients who urgently need our life saving skills.
“We want drivers to understand that a lane closed by a red X is for the safety of all, and especially to help protect the scene of an accident and those emergency and essential services who may be on the carriageway to deal with the aftermath.”
National Highways traffic officer Dave Harford added: “We do not take the decision to close lanes lightly, but when we do, drivers must obey the closure.
“A red X signal is there for the safety of everyone on the road – including people in difficulty, traffic officers, recovery and emergency services helping them and all other road users besides.
“Thankfully, the vast majority of drivers do comply with the signals, but those who do not put themselves and others at risk.”
If you get into trouble on a motorway – go left. If your vehicle has a problem or you get into trouble on a motorway, stay calm and try to exit at the next junction or motorway service area.
If that is not possible, put your left indicators on, move into the left lane, enter the next emergency area or hard shoulder, put your hazard lights on, get behind a safety barrier and call National Highways on 0300 123 5000, then a breakdown provider for help.
If you are unable to exit your vehicle and get to a safe place, have stopped in a live traffic lane or feel your life is in danger. stay in your vehicle with your seatbelts and hazard lights on and call 999 immediately.