Drivers who ignore lane closures on a motorway could soon face £100 fine and three penalty points.
To improve the flow and ease congestions on smart motorways when traffic is heavy additional lanes can be opened or closed if there is an accident or a vehicle breaks down.
The Home Office has been testing new cameras to catch drivers who are using a closed motorway lane, signalled by a red warning X on the gantry.
This new enforcement is currently expected to become permanent at the end of March 2018.
Road-side cameras would detect lane violantions and offences might be treated like passing through a red light, which carries a fixed penalty of £100 and three penalty points.
Police officers would then examine the offence and the severity of the violation before decided whether or not to send out a fine to the offending motorist.
Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: “The best laws are those that no-one breaks, not just because the penalties are so severe, but also because they are well understood and accepted.
“We need to see a redoubling of communications by Highways England to leave no doubt in motorists’ minds as to what a red X sign means.
“It’s important that drivers understand that where the carriageway has been blocked by a collision or a breakdown, the price for ignoring the red X could be a lot higher than a fixed penalty notice.”
Highways England has issued around 80,000 warning letters to motorists who broke smart motorway rules, with a third of these relating to driving in closed lanes.
Sections of the M1, M4, M5, M6 and M42 have already been modified, with 480 lane miles being added to England’s motorway network.
A Highways England spokesman said: “Safety is at the heart of everything we do and our roads are among the safest in the world.
“We close lanes for a reason and drivers ignoring the red Xs puts them and others at risk.
“Since we started issuing warning letters we have seen a decrease in the number of drivers ignoring lane closures.”