Finally, the bugbear for most of us driving on the motorway will finally be wiped out. Middle lane hoggers could now be subject to a £100 fine and points on their licence after the Government outlined its plans to tackle the problem. But why, exactly, is it so bad?
Other than because the Highway Code says so, and in a way that brooks no argument*, middle lane hogging can cause congestion as slower drivers stop those in the left hand lane from being able to overtake. As undertaking is frowned upon, if it’s even possible, slower drivers in the middle lane mean those drivers wanting to move over are stuck at slower speeds as a tail grows to their right.
Hogging the middle lane also forces faster drivers to weave in and out of traffic as they move from left to right, overtaking slower vehicles. It generally causes tempers to fray and blood pressure to rise, especially when you can’t weave, get stuck behind a slow-going truck limited to 56mph and can’t overtake due to a middle lane hogger who’s sitting at 60mph and causing a tail back. Not to mention the dangers of faster drivers approaching slower, middle lane hoggers at speed, expecting faster drivers or better reflexes.
Researchers at the Institute of Psychological Science at the University of Leeds have noted that older drivers tend to stick to the middle lane in an effort to reduce the amount of manoeuvring they have to do that may test their slowing reaction speeds. But the reality is that middle lane hoggers can be any age, and while traffic can be slowed it’s rarely stopped due to a hogger.
The Government has released their plans under an initiative to grant police powers to issue fixed penalty notices to careless drivers, and includes tailgating in the list, another pet hate of many drivers. The changes will allow police greater flexibility when dealing with such cases as middle lane hogging and enable them to offer educational training as an alternative to endorsement. Here’s hoping it’ll stop the middle lane hoggers from doing just that!
*Part 264 of the Highway Code: ‘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.’