RAC Cars News


What Is So Wrong With Hogging The Middle Lane?

By raccars Published

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This week a British van driver became the first unfortunate soul to be fined for 'hogging the middle lane' on a motorway, to the tune of nearly £1,000 and five licence penalty points. The news has provoked mixed reactions, including criticism from those who don't understand what's so wrong with driving in the middle lane.

According to the Highway Code - and common sense - you should be using the left hand lane of the motorway at all times, except when overtaking. You move into the middle lane to pass drivers who are travelling more slowly in the left hand lane, and you can move out again to the right hand lane, if you are passing slower moving drivers in both previous lanes. Once you have completed the overtaking manoeuvre, you should move left again.

However, according to research by insurance firm Direct Line last year, 10% of drivers claim to always or regularly drive in the middle lane as a matter of course rather than simply to overtake. They justify their behaviour because it is apparently easier to remain in the middle than to regularly change lanes. Unfortunately, this kind of driving behaviour wastes an awful lot of motorway lane miles and results in traffic congestion.

A quarter of those who admit to middle lane hogging claim that every single lane change poses a certain amount of risk, but seem unaware that their own behaviour forces other drivers to change lanes to pass them. So, in fact, they are posing an accident risk themselves.

In 2013, it became an offence to drive in the middle lane without due cause, incurring a fine of £100 and possible licence penalty points. Unfortunately, the rule has not been strictly enforced up until now but this first prosecution could open the doors to others.

Motoring experts claim that middle lane hogging culture is unlikely to change in a hurry, simply because a lack of confidence in driving on motorways and performing manoeuvres at speed is at the heart of the problem. People feel safer sticking to the middle lane. It has been suggested that this is unlikely to change until learner drivers are taught how to drive at speed and use motorways correctly, as part of the learner driver syllabus. Meanwhile, enforcing prosecutions against middle lane hoggers risks addressing the symptom rather than the cause of the problem.

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