Highways England is considering seeking changes to legislation to reduce instances where motorists drive under red cross (Red X) signs on highway gantries, Transport Network has learned.
It follows last week’s admission from the company’s health & safety programme lead that drivers ignoring the signs is a big safety issue for the workforce.
Highways England’s Stewart Evans told delegates at a recent Road Safety Markings Association health and safety conference: ‘I’m not aware of the strategy or the policy that we currently have around it but I appreciate it is a [big] issue, both for the traffic officer service and for our supply chain.’
A Highways England spokesperson told Transport Network that the safety of drivers was also a concern. She said: ‘While the vast majority of drivers comply with Red X’s we need all drivers to play their part in keeping our roads safe. We are looking at how we can improve compliance with Red X’s through driver education and in the longer-term changes to legislation are being considered.’
Failure to comply with a lawful traffic sign is an offence under section 36(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the penalty is a fine up to £1000, plus 3 penalty points or disqualification. But Highways England said that prosecution of the offence is difficult as it requires that it be witnessed by a police officer.
The company added that possible driver education measures include warning letters to motorists, which it has successfully used in cases where drivers have driven on the dynamic hard shoulder of smart motorways when it is closed.
Transport Network approached the Department for Transport, which would have to agree to any change in the law, for comment.