Police chiefs and Highways England are looking at new measures to address a lack of driver understanding of 'smart motorways', including offering retraining instead of a ticket to people who commit offences.
The BBC reported that the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) wants to offer training to drivers who exceed variable speed limits and use lanes closed with a red X, including using the hard shoulder when it has been closed.
Concerns have previously been raised about high rates of non-compliance with red X signs and the difficulty of prosecuting offenders.
Figures obtained by the BBC suggest an 18% rise in the number of people caught using the hard shoulder illegally between 2014/15 and 2015/16.
Chief constable Suzette Davenport, NPCC lead for roads policing, told the BBC: ‘I genuinely don't know that people understand when it is OK. Absolutely there are people who will now use the hard shoulder if there is a queue of traffic so they get off more quickly because they don't want to sit in a queue.
‘I'm not sure that would have happened say 15 years ago.’
She added: ‘We don't have national driver offender retraining courses for the motorways. So if you get caught on the motorway you are going to get a ticket. Whereas we have about one million people a year on other road networks who are being caught driving and are going on national offender retraining.’
Although Ms Davenport’s comments could apply to any motorway offence, a spokesperson for the NPCC told Transport Network that they related to a general trend in roads policing – that people don’t fully understand how to use smart motorways.
He said re-education courses are still in early development and part of a wide range of measures police chiefs are looking at with Highways England and other agencies.
Discussions are also taking place about improving guidance and compliance on smart motorways generally.