Know what a red 'X' means on the motorway? Nearly a third of motorists don’t

Only 68% understand it means lane is closed

IT seems so obvious it should not need explaining, yet nearly a third of motorists do not know what that red ‘X’ means, according to research.

The Highways Agency asked 4,156 people about the sign and only 68% understood it meant the lane beneath is closed.

The sign appeared over an M25 lane in which a van had broken down in November last year, and 145 vehicles failed to comply in 10 minutes.

The Highways Agency's 2014 National Road User Survey found one in 12 people would simply stop when they saw the sign.

Police forces including Hertfordshire, Surrey and Kent are planning a clampdown after the survey also found 39% of motorists did not know running the sign was illegal.

A separate AA poll of over 19,000 members found a third of drivers would ignore the sign until they saw the reason for the closure. Another third would move into an adjacent lane but then back if the closed lane appeared to be moving more quickly.

The Highways Agency has launched a campaign including radio adverts, posters and two YouTube videos. The first video explains the meaning in simple language while the second, for the really dim, illustrates with a splatter of red and a crash sound.

Jamie Hassall, Highways Agency national enforcement co-ordinator, said: ‘It is pretty simple – if you see a Red X, don’t drive in that lane.

‘If you do, you could collide with a broken down vehicle, or with a traffic officer, emergency service crew or recovery operator working in that lane.’

AA President Edmund King said: ‘When a vehicle is broken down in a live running lane the Red X is a potential life saver. Drivers who ignore the Red X are not only putting themselves and the lives of other motorists around them at risk but are also risking prosecution.’

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