DrivingTalk Blog: Middle Lane Hoggers Watch Out?

Blog: On-the-spot fines for motorway middle-lane hoggers. Big news?

By Tim Kendall | 5th June 2013

New on-the-spot fines for motorway middle-lane hoggers

How often does the government do something that makes our lives easier? The answer to that question depends on your political bent, but I’ll wager the actions of those in the nation’s driving seat rile more often than please most of us. So the announcement of a crackdown on anti-social drivers feels like an uncharacteristically pleasant bit of news.

Middle lane hoggers, tailgaters and drivers using hand-held mobile phones can now be issued with on-the-spot fines of £100 and three points on their licences. The idea is to make it far simpler for police to target careless and inconsiderate driving without having go through a load of bureaucracy and reams of paperwork to get a case to court.

UK Motorways

Middle lane hoggers to be a thing of the past? Hmmm.

Transport Minister Stephen Hammond told the Daily Telegraph: “Careless drivers are a menace and their negligence puts innocent people’s lives at risk. That is why we are making it easier for the police to tackle problem drivers by allowing them to immediately issue a fixed penalty notice rather than needing to take every offender to court. We are also increasing penalties for a range of driving offences to a level which reflects their seriousness and which will ensure that they are consistent with other similar penalty offences.”

And not before time, I say.

It’s long been a pet-hate of most right-thinking and diligent drivers to have to accommodate the selfish/ignorant/lazy types who sit in the middle lane of our motorways for mile after mile regardless of whether there’s anything to overtake in lane 1. As a spokesman for the Institute of Advanced Motorists told the BBC, this behaviour effectively narrows the motorway from three down to two lanes, forcing traffic to bunch up in lanes 2 and 3 to get past the inconsiderate numpty in lane 2. So it’s dangerous. It leads to accidents.

Use any of the nation’s motorways regularly and it’s a depressing, frustrating, time-wasting scenario you’ll see too often. Indeed, this morning on the M4 I happened upon a middle-lane hogger (‘MLH’).

The way this snippet of modern-day motoring misery unfolds is all too predictable. Me? In lane 1, nothing in front of me for a good half a mile.  The MLH? Well, the Vauxhall Meriva driving muppet sat in lane 2, resolutely just below the national speed limit thus forcing me to move out and wait behind him, along with a stack of other traffic. Of course this little queue in lane 2 now had to wait whilst the cavalcade of thrusting execs in S-lines and M-Sports surged forth in lane 1, on their way on to one of the Thames Valley’s many business parks for a power breakfast. So that one MLH forced me and several other cars to slow down, move across one or two lanes and then speed up again to get past, before moving back into lane 2 in front of him and back into lane 1. Once past him, I observed the MLH in my rear view mirror and he remained glued to lane 2 as I disappeared into the distance. Net result? Increased fuel consumption, increased journey time, increased danger, increased pulse rate and an increased hatred of Vauxhall Merivas and their stereotypically brain-dead drivers.

But how often do you see a police jam jar and an MLH on the same stretch of road at the same time? IAM Director of policy hit the nail on the head: “This could free up traffic police time and allow them to maintain a higher profile. But without traffic cops out on the road to enforce this new approach it will have little impact on road safety.” Ah well, there’s the rub.

By Tim Kendall
5th June 2013

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