The first edition of the Highway Code was published on 14th April 1931. Since then there have been huge changes to roads, the way we drive, the vehicles we drive and how we get to where we are travelling to. Back then there were no motorways, and certainly no sat-nav or in-car infotainment.

The Highway Code back then cost 1 penny!

The Highway Code has never stood still for long. It’s always changing and updating to reflect changes in motoring and the rules around such. Most recently it has been announced that later this year the Highway Code will give guidance on driving on smart motorways. The updates will include advice on how and where to stop on a smart motorway. It will also highlight the importance of being aware of the “Red X”. There will also be guidance on the use of variable speed limits, designed to manage congestion. Furthermore, there will also be information on how safety cameras are used to ensure compliance with speed limits.

The government has been under significant pressure to improve the safety on smart motorways or scrap them. This is in light of a number of deaths, which have tragically occurred on smart motorways. Some parts of smart motorways are either permanently or temporarily used live lanes – to help improve traffic flow. However, drivers can be left stuck in a live lane if they suffer a vehicle breakdown – and are too far from an SOS area to safely walk to.

Jeremy Phillips, Highways England head of road safety, said: “Thanks to the input from road users, we have been able to produce clearer guidance on how to use our motorways and major A-roads, which will make journeys even safer.”

Smart Motorway Tips:

  • Do not drive in a lane closed by a red X (see below)
  • Keep to the speed limits shown on the signs
  • Be aware that a hard shoulder has a solid white unbroken line. If there is a red X displayed or no speed limit displayed above it do not use it except in an emergency
  • A broken white line is a normal running lane
  • If the hard shoulder is used as an extra lane, make sure you use the designated areas for emergencies
  • If you encounter problems with your vehicle, exit the motorway as soon as you can
  • If you breakdown, put your hazard lights on

Red X – Be Aware!

  • A Red X sign means that a lane is closed. You must keep out of that lane as there may be an incident or workmen or women working ahead in that lane
  • A Red X can be shown on gantry signs above each lane or on large signs above the left side of the carriageway
  • It’s illegal to drive in a lane closed by a Red X sign. You could get a £100 fine and three penalty points. For more severe breaches you could find yourself in court