Motorway lane closures

As some of you will know, I can be a bit OCD on the highway code. Not necessarily on absolute adherence, but at least knowing and understanding what we are flaunting. Below is my experience and “Highway England’s” view on it.



I understand since March 2018 it is a specific endorseable offence to ignore Motorway lane closures.
Last night (Fri 22nd June) we were travelling home from Leeds to Manchester on the M62 late on. Around Halifax (ish) the gantry signs diverted us to lane three with a 50mph limit, to which we complied. Some time later we seemed to pass a spillage.
Having passed the (or a) hazard historically I would have reverted to normal lane discipline with heightened caution and forward vigilance until an NSL on all three lanes or an “End” gantry or a blank gantry.
With the new offence in play, we chose to remain in lane 3 at the 50mph. We passed an older style gantry that stated there was an obstruction. Then finally a second older style gantry said “End” gantry where we resumed normal motorway protocol. Throughout this time we were harassed by other motorists with light flashes, tail gating and undertaking in the closed lanes.

Have we missed something?
I cannot help but wonder if the law has advanced beyond the HWE’s capabilities, in as much that speed restrictions seemed to be extend miles more than necessary beyond the incident noted, causing frustration and almost placing ourselves by adherence in a situation of breaching the peace, by not moving to the left.

I thank you in advance for your clarification, which will be shared with motoring groups I affiliate to and with.


and in response . . .

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your email of 25 June 2018 regarding speed limits and lane closures on the M62.

The signals you saw were set after we had received a report from the Police that a goods vehicle has spilled diesel onto the carriageway. The location was quite vague so we set signs to cover the full area of the potential spillage. Traffic officers attended the area to search but found nothing. Signals were then cleared. Many reports of obstructions, debris or spillages do end up being a ‘no trace’. We have to take all reports seriously and take all necessary action to ensure the carriageway is safe to drive over. From what you described, you drove responsibly and complied with all signals. Unfortunately others did not. The legislation now provides the Police with a specific offence with which to charge such drivers.

Thank you again for contacting us. If you have any further questions regarding this or any other Highways England issue please feel free to contact us via our 24 hour Customer Contact Centre on 0300 123 5000. Alternatively, please e-mail us at or access our website where information on all Highways England policies and procedures can be found.

To help us identify and make improvements to our responses, I would be very grateful if you could please take our feedback survey by clicking here.

Kind regards

Regional Support Manager

So basically, we are required to retain the speed restriction even once we have passed “a” hazard. Makes sense as the percieved hazard may not be “the” hazard. I would still prefer the “common sense” approach, but the new laws now places law abiding road users in a place of dogged adherence, causing frustration for the less disciplined and placing law abiders in direct conflict them.

Nice post :smiley:

I used to have a copy of the Highway Code in the door pocket of my car, if I felt that another driver had done something stupid or caused me to brake/change direction I would not hoot an wave a fist but show the offender my copy of the code. No road rage, but some baffled drivers. They probably hadn’t seen the document before :smiley:

I have recently seen traffic cameras going off to record vehicles using closed lanes on a managed motorway. My guess is there would be no argument if you got caught.

IMHO only an idiot would drive in a closed lane. Sadly there are plenty around as we know.

By the way today on my way back from Moffat to Frome I have seen two discarded cargo straps, half a tyre, and parts of a road sign in the carriageway . Hitting any one of them could have caused me a big problem.

Understand your frustration, motorway signage is getting better but is pretty crap, just my ha pence worth.

Id stay out as how would I be sure that the hazard seen was the same one the signs were referring to

Good point Cabernet
On an M6 jaunt last year the signs continued well after the hazard and people began to speed up and use the nearside ‘closed’ lane. This included HGVs and coaches. Outside lane up to 70-80mph.
And then we saw the lights. Doing the prescribed 50mph I didn’t have to emergency brake but a few others did! There was a lorry fire on the hard shoulder, rescue vehicles and some worried looking police officers who may well have wondered why the traffic wasn’t slowing.
Go steady

All good points.

Motorway signage may be more modern and able to display information more clearly and presumably more accurately, but it doesn’t. It’s mostly out of date or completely bugus BS. I’ve long got used to ignoring the advisory signs suggesting reduced speed – apart from causing dangerous bunching it seems rare that they serve any other purpose. It is only when they get to put red circle round that I take them more seriously, but for no other reason than that they are at least mandatory in that form.

IMHO only an idiot would drive in a closed lane. Sadly there are plenty around as we know.

I was riding along the autobahn in Germany in June with five others, second in line. The signs over the outside lane signaled its closure, so we all moved over into the middle lane. We were riding briskly, but not silly. As we came up to the bollards/cones that tapered out the outside lane a gurt big SUV thing in the outside lane started to plough through the cones, the driver obviously busy not driving. (all this happened in a split second) The driver swerved to the right, which is where I was. I caught sight of it in my peripheral vision, swerved to the right, but not into the nearside lane and braked but not so the rider behind would run into me. As I did so the car past directly in front of me, no more than a foot from my wheel headed toward the inside lane, so swerved back again into the middle lane. I was now directly behind. We were riding at about 80mph and the car considerably more and all this happened in a flash. The car moved over to the inside lane and I made it perfectly clear I wasn’t happy.
Nick, riding in front came along side and asked if I was ok, having seen it in his mirrors. We pulled into the next services and the guys behind couldn’t believe I was still alive.
The strange thing was I never panicked, or over reacted, I just carried on to the next services almost like nothing had happened. It wasn’t until the guys behind described the scene of flying cones wiping out his wing mirror and him missing my panniers by nothing and somehow not taking me out that I realised just how close I came to not going home.

Don’t drive in closed lanes, even if you are asleep!

UK plates?