You probably think that you know the rules of the road. According to a survey by the International Drivers Association, many don’t, particularly when it comes to smart motorways, and this lack of knowledge could result in a hefty fine, points on the licence, and, in some cases, an outright ban.
The International Drivers Association has laid down some of the key rules you should be aware of when driving on smart motorways and the potential fines you could face for breaking these rules. It conducted a survey of 3,000 motorists to find out if they knew of the following rules, and shockingly only 29% did, which means 71% didn’t.
Red X sign: A red X sign displayed on an overhead gantry above a lane means you must not drive in that lane. The red X indicates that the lane is closed, possibly due to an accident or breakdown.
f you’re in a lane when a red X appears, you should move out of it as soon as it’s safe to do so. Driving in a lane closed by a red X can get you a fixed penalty of £100 and three points on your license.
Speed Limits: Smart motorways use variable speed limits to manage the flow of traffic. These limits will be displayed on overhead gantries. You should always obey these speed limits, even if there doesn’t appear to be a reason for the reduced speed.
If you exceed the speed limit on a smart motorway, you can be fined. The minimum fine for speeding is £100, but it can be higher, and you could also receive penalty points on your license.
Hard Shoulder Usage: On some smart motorways, the hard shoulder is used as a regular lane during busy periods. This will be indicated by a speed limit displayed above the hard shoulder.
However, if a red X is displayed, or if there are no speed limit signs above the hard shoulder, you should not drive in it. Unlawful driving on the hard shoulder can lead to a £100 fine and three points on your license.
Emergency Refuge Areas (ERAs): If you break down or have an emergency on a smart motorway, you should try to reach an ERA. These are marked with blue signs featuring an orange SOS telephone symbol.
They’re spaced every 1.5 miles or so. If you stop in an ERA, you must contact Highways England via the roadside emergency telephone before rejoining the motorway. Misuse of ERAs could lead to a fine.
Stopping on a Live Lane: If you stop on a live lane on a smart motorway, and it’s determined that you could have taken reasonable steps to prevent the situation (for example, if you run out of fuel), you could be charged with careless driving, which could get you a fine of up to £5,000, up to nine points on your license, and a driving ban.
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