‘Red “X” means don’t use that lane’  is one of the messages drivers will see when using a SMART Motorway in the UK.

Driving on a motorway takes skill,concentration and sometimes nerves of steel. As I found out the other week after picking someone up from Heathrow Airport, exiting the slip road onto the M25 and encountering an articulated lorry attempting to wipe me off the face of the earth!

So anything which makes a drivers life safer and easier is going to be good, yes?


Let’s see.

Motorway driving takes a different level of skill to residential driving but is something which can be supported by your driving instructor after passing your test. A driving instructor is not necessarily just there for those initial driving lessons and ensuring you are test ready but can be utilisied on different occasions. Motorway driving is one of them. Can you think of anything you may need help with?

What is a SMART Motorway?

UK Driving

Source of Map: dailymail.co.uk 01/2015.

A Smart motorway is a stretch of road which uses pioneering technology to assist drivers on their journeys, by reducing congestion at certain periods during the day and easing traffic flow.

How does a Smart Motorway work?

I was quite surprised when I exited Dartford Crossing in Essex (toll charge no longer paid at bridge/tunnel) to find Variable Speed Limits -a control method- in operation.  This along with Red X Means Lane Closed, is another indicator that a stretch of motorway has become ‘smart.’

Did You Know… If you drive on a motorway lane with a red X you may be prosecuted. (Listen to the Highways Agency Red X audio-telling you what the red x means.)

The use of the hard shoulder at certain points on our motorways will always be indicated by a sign. In areas where the Active Traffic Management scheme is in force. It is only to be used as a running lane and is not to be used for overtaking. If the red X or a blank sign is above the lane, this provides you with the knowledge to not use it as a lane. It should then only be used in an breakdown or emergency.

Did You Know… British roads are amongst the safest in the world (Gov.UK)

To assist the Government in ensuring that motorway drivers commit to the rules of a Smart motorways new speed cameras are being introduced. These new gantry Speed Cameras are much harder to spot than the yellow speed cameras. Front and rear cameras will allow them to read vehicle details and drivers speed.

Devices on M25 in Kent have caught 700 drivers in two months.

(Source: dailymail.co.uk)

The Rules of a Smart Motorway are:

  • Drive at the speed limit indicated.
  • Do not drive under a red X
  • If the lane has a solid white line, this indicates it is the hard shoulder. Do not drive on it unless told to.
  • A lane with a broken white line indicates a normal running lane.
  • If the hard shoulder isn’t available, use the refuge area for emergencies. Put hazard lights on.