Police warn motorists WILL be prosecuted for making this mistake on ‘smart’ M1 in Sheffield

The stretch of smart motorway on the M1 in Sheffield has been in place for over a year but it seems motorists still aren’t quite sure how it all works. 

The M1 in Sheffield, between junctions 32 and 35A, was officially converted into a 'smart' motorway in March last year, following months of engineering.

Smart motorway in Sheffield - Credit: SYP Operations Support

Smart motorway in Sheffield - Credit: SYP Operations Support

There is now an extra lane on the motorway with the hard shoulder being used for traffic.

There is also more technology in place to manage traffic, with electronic signs in place to close lanes or change speed limits when needed.

Traffic flow on the smart motorway is controlled by overhead gantries which change speed from the national limit down to 30mph if there's traffic ahead.

Smart motorways display a red X to indicate that a lane is closed, normally because of an accident or a broken down vehicle. 

However, South Yorkshire Police have warned that motorists are continuing to ignore these signs and could be facing prosecution. 

A statement from SYP Operational Support read: “Ladies and gentlemen. For those of you that use motorways regularly. The over head signs are there for a reason not just to look pretty. When the arrow points it means MOVE not carry on anyway.

“When the red X lights up it means that lane is closed not carry on anyway.

“These pics are of vehicles who ignored the signs today whilst we were trying to get to a collision. 

“If you are using the lane with the red X and we get the chance you will be prosecuted.  It is done to keep YOU and us safe.”

Earlier this year it was announced that automatic fines could be introduced for drivers found guilty of breaking this rule but the law still needs Home Office approval. 

If this proposal is approved then drivers could be fined £100 for the offence. 

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, commented, “Too many drivers who wouldn’t think of running a red traffic light still seem to treat the Red X as an advisory rather than a mandatory signal, used to protect their safety.

“Highways England can get so far with information campaigns, but that advice and encouragement needs to be backed up by statutory enforcement and stiff penalties for those intent on putting themselves and others at risk.”

Last year it was revealed that motorists could be issued with fines for travelling above the 70mph limit on the M1, 24-hours-a-day. 

The fines can be issued even where there is no variable speed limit in place on the motorway as police warn they are intent on 'catching speeders'.