Press release

Driving through the A3 Hindhead tunnel...?

Drivers using the A3 Hindhead tunnel in Surrey are being reminded that the red X symbol above a lane means 'move out, stay out'.

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Lanes are closed for the protection of both road users and road workers and are vital for the safe operation of the tunnel, either as part of routine maintenance or for an incident.

CCTV footage released today shows a driver ignoring a red X and the potential hazards of doing so. Now the Highways Agency has joined forces with Surrey Police and EM Highway Services Ltd to remind all drivers of the risks of not heeding the red cross code.

Neil Andrew, Highways Agency Asset Manager said:

Safety is a top priority for the Highways Agency. Although our roads are some of the safest in the world we are not complacent with this and are alarmed at the number of drivers choosing to ignore the lane closures. During a one hour period the tunnel operators observed over 100 drivers ignoring the signals, putting themselves and others at risk.

We don’t take the decision to close a lane or tunnel lightly, if it is closed it is for a reason, even if that reason might not be instantly obvious to drivers. Our message is simple, if a lane is closed - move out and stay out.

Lane closures in the A3 Hindhead tunnel are indicated using overhead signs displaying the red X symbol, the same as on motorways. This means drivers must not proceed any further in the lane indicated.

Inspector Richard Mallett, head of Surrey Police Policing Unit said:

Safety is also a top priority for Surrey Police. Stay alert on the roads and take note – signals are used to warn you of a danger ahead.

The red X is there for a reason. It is used to protect the emergency services and highway workers as well as road users. There may be an incident, a spillage or road workers on the carriageway which you may not immediately be able to see.

Do not risk the safety of yourself, your passengers or those on the roads and take action. Remember the red cross code - if red lights on the overhead signals flash above your lane and a red ‘X’ is showing, you must not go beyond the signal in that lane.

Failing to obey the sign is a criminal offence and can result in the driver receiving three points on their licence and a £100 fine.

Routine maintenance is required for any tunnel and involves equipment testing and cleaning.

Sandra Gowland, Health and Safety Manager for EM Highway Services Ltd - responsible for maintaining roads including the A3 and the Hindhead Tunnel, explains: “Maintenance work is carried out overnight, every six weeks, when traffic flows are at their lowest.

“Our road workers put their trust in the driving public to adhere to the road signs on display when they are undertaking this work or assisting with incidents, which can occur at any time.

“The signs are there to protect our workers from danger and to keep road users safe. We are constantly striving to keep our employees free from harm as they undertake their work on these high speed roads and the driving public can play a big part in helping us to achieve this.”

General enquiries

Members of the public should contact the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000

Media enquiries

Journalists should contact the Highways Agency press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer

Published 10 March 2014