Where will I see the red cross (X) symbol?
The red X is an increasingly common sight on the UK's roads, especially the new generation of smart motorways where traffic is managed and lanes controlled. You'll find it either on an overhead gantry, or increasingly on cantilever signs at the side of the road.
What does the red X mean?
Regardless of where you see the sign, either on a normal traffic lane or on a hard shoulder on a motorway hard shoulder, it simply means do not drive in the line - it has been closed to traffic.
Why is the red X important?
While motorways are statistically the safest type of road in Britain they can be dangerous for everyone at the scene of a breakdown. This risks involved in a motorway breakdown mostly concern the high speed of the passing traffic, but with more so-called ’smart’ motorways without a permanent hard shoulder being introduced all the time, the risks of an incident occurring are potentially far greater.
When the relevant highways traffic management authority becomes aware of a breakdown or incident on a smart motorway they switch on a ‘red cross’ sign on the gantries that span the carriageway to close the lane to traffic.
Ignoring the ‘red X’ sign is an offence as it is extremely dangerous to so, potentially causing serious injury to those at the scene, as well as the occupants of the offending vehicle. Any driver who ignores the red cross sign could be fined £60 and receive three penalty points on their driving licence.
What do I do if I've broken down?
The RAC advises motorists who break down on the motorway to leave the vehicle by the left-hand door and ensure all their passengers do the same – we have full guidance in our breaking down on a smart motorway article.