Drivers are now coming to terms with the Smart Motorway concepts. The variable speed limits were initially seen by many as unenforced temporary limits, until the high volume of speeding penalties issued with high frequency quickly brought the message that these are enforced with vigour.

In addition to the variable speeds, Smart Motorways also indicate lane closures, marked with a red X, to accommodate the flow of traffic. At present breaches of these lane closures have not resulted in any enforcement despite being monitored by automatic road side cameras. However, warning letters have been issued to drivers in England and Wales who have ignored the lane closure signs. It is estimated that around 80,000 of these warnings were issued in 2017 alone.

The Home Office has hinted that following this initial period of monitoring and sending letters, enforcement could be introduced as soon as Spring 2018. It is believed that the penalty will be £100 and 3 points, using legislation currently in place for those who contravene red traffic lights. Highways England says that the Home Office is currently testing roadside cameras which detect lane violations.

This will not be welcome news for many motorists who are already driving with heavily endorsed driving licences due to lack of understanding of the new systems. If a driver reaches 12 penalty points on their licence, they will be referred to Court and face a 6 months disqualification.

A spokesman for Highways England 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 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.”

If you are in this position, Rothera Sharp has a team of expert traffic lawyers who help drivers facing disqualification to keep their licence. For free initial advice please call 0800 046 3066