Smart motorway red ‘X’ signs ignored by almost one in four

This topic contains 9 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  vinalspin 2 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #72023 Reply


    From what I’ve experienced I’m not surprised. Part of the problem is actually believing that the X is there for a genuine reason, as so many of these “smart” motorways aren’t that smart.

    I regularly drive on the M1 between Bedford and the M25. I usually return late evening when the motorway is quieter. On numerous occasions the overhead signs have a reduced speed due to congestion even though there’s hardly any cars on the road.

    My wife was at a seminar recently, it was nothing to do about roads, but one of the guest speakers was a lady who had helped set up these smart motorways. She explained how well traffic was being managed by them, traffic flow charts etc. My wife caught up with her later and told her about our experience and of course she refused to believe it.

    #72032 Reply


    Robert I have frequently, usually at night, been driving along the M8 and the overhead gantries have a red X over all lanes. Nobody stops and drives on ignoring them. The norm is for them to be on a few gantries then nothing. I have NEVER seen anyone stop at a red X.

    #72038 Reply


    Thankfully now being retired I only do a couple of hundred miles a year on motorways but in my last few days of work that took me daily north on the M32 > west on the M4 then north on the M5 and I left the M32 on to the M4 were overhead gantries were saying “check your fuel” and 2 minutes later I turn north on to the M5 at the Almondsbury interchange straight in to the back of a 2 hour tailback.

    Very informative but lucky I had filled the tank.

    #72082 Reply

    Glos Guy

    Unfortunately, I have to travel through a section of ‘Managed Motorways’ on the M5 near Bristol on my daily commute. They are a complete nightmare with the variable speed limits rarely having any relevance whatsoever to the traffic conditions.

    I’m afraid that I don’t have any sympathy for those driving down a hard shoulder that has a red X above it getting a ticket, as the rules on these are very clear. You can drive down them on certain managed motorways when signs allow, but they can be closed at any time (even in rush hour, when they are normally designated driving lanes) when there is a stranded vehicle or hazard.

    On the M5 section that I use, there is just one camera in each direction (just before Jn 17 southbound and just before Jn 16 northbound). You can see them as they are two yellow boxes fitted to the nearside of the gantry, half way up. They are triggered by your speed at that specific point only and not your average speed throughout the whole section (I believe that some other schemes might be different and are based on average speed). There are no other cameras on any other gantries, but it doesn’t stop people slamming on their brakes under them as they don’t know that!

    There is rarely a day when I don’t see them flashing, mostly because the latest money making racket is to have all preceding gantries set to 60mph and then, without warning, have the one gantry that has a camera set to 40mph. Another thing that isn’t widely understood is that when there are no variable speed limits in use, these cameras are set to trigger at speeds above 70mph. Thankfully there is a tolerance, as I passed the camera on the M4 near Bristol late one night doing almost 80mph with no other traffic around and was ‘flashed’. I had an anxious few weeks wait but thankfully no ticket arrived.

    As for the utterly useless ‘information’ signs, I could write a book. For weeks, we were being told every day that there would be traffic congestion around Silverstone over the British Grand Prix weekend. No shit, Sherlock! Why we need to know this when we are around 100 miles away I have no idea! Also, they have put in digital signs showing the fuel price at the next 3 motorway service stations. The justification for their installation (at considerable cost) was to reduce the number of drivers running out of fuel. I would suggest that they have achieved the exact opposite, as the fuel prices displayed are around 20p per litre more than you would pay at a supermarket and I’m sure that most people think “How much? I’m not paying that. I’ll try to eek it out a bit further”.

    #72306 Reply


    Sorry to rock the boat, but I think SMART works well (all lane running is different story…) Bear in mind the variable speed limits are not just supposed to reflect conditions where you *are*, but down the road, where you are *going*.

    I commute regularly on the M1 between Nottingham and Leicester, and when I join the M1 at J26 the limits are sometimes set at 60mph or even 50mph although the motorway seems clear. WHY?

    But then I scroll the map on Waze (Android Auto App) and see that at J25 the traffic is stationary. The limit, on an otherwise free-flowing road is there to prevent me running full pelt into stationary traffic, and to try to let the (hopefully) temporary jam clear before I get there. I’d rather cruise at 40mph for 5 mins, get past the obstruction and get back to full speed instead of pelting along at 70mph (ish :), coming to a near standstill, sitting frustrated for 2-3 mins before resuming normal cruising speed again.

    I’ve been running up and down the M1 for about 10 or 11 years now, and endured all the SMART motorway roadworks, and they finally finished them last week.

    I’d say my commute, including the stretch between J26 and J22 is approximately 10 mins quicker going to work, and 20 minutes coming home, than it used to be before the SMART was installed.

    Still early days though.

    #72308 Reply


    For amusement only?

    When they first put these overhead signs up around the Almondsbury interchange I was waiting at junction 18 M4 on the bridge over for a couple of guys coming up from South Wales to show them a job in Bath.

    While waiting there I could not miss the fact that there was not one vehicles travelling in the eastbound direction.

    20 minutes go by and the traffic started to appear again eastbound and my two lads turn up. I asked them what was the problem down the motorway and they said the overhead gantries were saying “40 Cows on the motorway” and I said “how do they know there were 40 Cows, did someone count them”.

    A few days later I was going through a section near there and the signs were saying “40 Pedestrians on the motorway” its then it dawned on me the number referred too the speed limit and not how many people or cows were on the motorway. 😀


    #72320 Reply


    The “smart” motorway is only as smart as the people operating it!

    I was coming back from East Midlands Airport at 7pm and it had every sign from there to Wakefield set at 50mph, occasionally it said congestion ahead but the road was reasonably quiet all the way back, no accidents/incidents/jams/pedestrians/cows etc, just an excuse to earn some speeding fine money and this is not an isolated incident, I have been driving locally through a stretch of smart signs at 60mph that just change to 40mph when I’m 20 yards away, impossible to slow down in time and then the very next sign is back to 60mph, great way to squeeze your wallet and load points towards a ban, SMART!?

    #72343 Reply


    @vinalspin, when the limit changes, say from 60mph to 40mph just as as you’re passing the gantry, “they” know you couldn’t (and even if you could, you shouldn’t) scrub 20mph in a few yards.

    You are given a grace period when the limits change. Different police forces have different grace periods, I’ve read between 30 seconds and 2 minutes.

    #72349 Reply


    Good job as I had just pulled back in front of an HGV and preferred my car the length it is!

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Reply To: Smart motorway red ‘X’ signs ignored by almost one in four

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