Red Xs are displayed on overhead signs to close lanes for several reasons, including an accident or breakdown, debris in the carriageway, or because of a person or animal on the road. Lanes are also closed to help emergency services get through or to provide a safe space for road workers.
It is currently illegal to drive in a lane marked with a red X, but drivers can only be prosecuted if they are caught by the police at the time. From June 10, however, police will have new powers to penalise drivers who are caught on a road traffic camera.
Highways England claims to have issued in excess of 180,000 warning letters since the start of 2017 to drivers who have ignored red X signs.
AA president Edmund King described the move as a “welcome measure to improve safety.” He added: “Our research shows that one in 20 drivers continue to drive in red X lanes even when they’ve seen it, and so far Highways England have written warning letters to over 180,000 drivers about their actions. Red Xs are put up to warn of an obstruction, so drivers must get out of the lane when they see them.”