Is careless driving on the increase?
Research shows more drivers undertaking awareness courses.
Rule 264 of the Highway Code states ‘You should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear. If you are overtaking a number of slower-moving vehicles, you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past. Slow-moving or speed-restricted vehicles should always remain in the left-hand lane of the carriageway unless overtaking.’
Seems simple enough to understand, but middle lane hogging is continuing to cause much frustration to other road users on motorways as slow, clueless drivers continue to dawdle in the middle lane completely unaware of what’s going on around them, causing avoidable congestion and potentially dangerous situations.
Frustration leads to tailgating
With drivers refusing to drive in the usually an empty first lane, this is where road rage is triggered as some choose to then sit right behind the middle lane hogger and flash their lights to make them aware of their presence and highlight the danger they’re causing due to their lazy driving. Frustration and anger boil over, but drivers aren’t often aware that this is then another cause of careless driving known as tailgating, which will also suffer the same penalty.
Careless driving penalty
In June 2013 Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond, brought in changes so that careless driving (middle lane hogging and tailgating) would be an offence with drivers given a fixed penalty of £100 along with three points on their driving license.
At the time he commented, “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.”
“Hurrah” we all shouted as finally there would be a clampdown; middle lanes would be free from careless drivers and motorway driving would be a pleasant, easy experience. But, and it’s a big but, it took until two years after the new law was brought in for the first person to be prosecuted.
Clampdown is still needed
So is handing over some money and a few points on your licence enough to stop it?
Judging by the increase of drivers still hogging the middle lane we don’t think they have and it almost looks as though they bought in the law to actually scare drivers into thinking they might get caught, as up to last year just 135 drivers had been issued with tickets for the misdemeanour since it got introduced nearly four years ago.
Police do give drivers the option to go on the What’s Driving Us? Course, the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme managing this on their behalf providing it as an alternative to prosecution. Even though the course is completed by drivers that have committed a wide range of offences, not just middle lane hogging and dangerous driving, but in 2013, 65,031 people had undertaken the course compared to 2016 which saw a huge increase to 125,583.
So with the numbers up, more drivers have been caught driving carelessly but is there more that can be done from your early years of driving?
Further education needed for safer driving
Motorway lessons have never been compulsory once you’ve passed your test, so should they be to avoid the problem of the middle lane hogger and tailgater? Previous research from the AA showed that just 3% of drivers had undergone any motorway driving tuition at all!
However, plans were confirmed by Transport Minister Andrew Jones in August this year, that in 2018 learner drivers accompanied by an approved instructor and driving a car with dual controls will be able to take motorway lessons before they’ve passed their test, ensuring they had the necessary training for driving at higher speeds, joining and leaving the motorway correctly and overtaking and using lanes properly.
He said, “We have some of the safest roads in the world and we want to make them even safer. These changes will equip learners with a wider range of experience and greater skill set which will improve safety levels on our roads.”
So, we want to know what you think of middle lane hoggers and tailgaters, does it enrage you? Are you guilty of rage yourself and what do you think could be done to solve this problem? Should motorway lessons be compulsory to new drivers? Comment below.