Drivers on the M62 are putting their lives at risk by ignoring the red X sign which tells them a lane is closed due to an accident or breakdown.
A red X response vehicle carrying automatic number plate recognition cameras is being used as part of the initiative on the motorway.
CCTV footage has also been released showing an incident on the M1 near Wakefield where a van narrowly avoided striking a worker and a stationary vehicle when it travelled in a closed lane with a red X above.
A red X is used on all smart motorways to close a lane when there has been a breakdown or accident. The closure is in place for the safety of drivers and also traffic officers and emergency services personnel who may be working in the lanes ahead.
The red X response vehicle will attend incidents on the M1 between junctions 39 (Wakefield) and 42 (Leeds) and on the M62 between junctions 25 (Brighouse) to 30 (Rothwell) capturing images of vehicles driving in a closed lane.
Letters will then be sent from West Yorkshire Police to drivers who did not comply with the red X to advise them about the risks to safety.
A similar awareness event on the M25 resulted in more than 700 letters being issued. Only 4% of those identified were spotted travelling under a red X again.
Rob Beckitt, Highways England operations manager, said: “A red X above a lane indicates it is closed because of a breakdown or accident. It is used to keep drivers, our traffic officers and the emergency services safe.
“By ignoring these signs and continuing to drive in the lanes, you are putting yourself and everybody else at risk of danger. Hopefully our initiative will raise awareness of the red X sign, and protect people driving and working on our motorways.”
Sgt Gary Roper, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “The increasing number of vehicles on the roads combined with the new smart motorways that have recently opened in our region mean that compliance with red X signals is an important part of road safety.
“This initiative provides the opportunity to educate those drivers who contravene the red X signals. However, it should be noted that prosecution remains an option for those drivers who continue to ignore the red X sign.”
A seven-mile stretch of smart motorway on the M1 between junctions 39 and 42 near Wakefield went live in February. The hard shoulder has been permanently converted to an extra lane and variable speed limits are used to keep traffic moving.
A recent study found that the smart motorway on the M62 between junctions 25 and 30 is saving commuters an average of 30 minutes a week since it opened back in 2013.
To find out more about driving on a smart motorway, go to www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-drive-on-a-smart-motorway