Motorway middle-lane hoggers to face on-the-spot fines

 
Middle-lane hogging traffic on a busy road Tailgating and middle-lane hogging will now incur fixed penalties

Motorway tailgaters and middle-lane hoggers are to face quick justice with on-the-spot penalties under new measures announced by the government.

From July, police will be able to issue £100 fines and three points for careless driving offences that would currently have to go to court.

The idea is to target offenders without the need for lengthy court procedures.

Current fixed penalties for using a phone while driving or not wearing a seatbelt will also rise by £40 to £100.

The move brings careless driving offences into line with the penalties for similar non-motoring fixed penalties. Drivers will still be able to appeal against any decision through the courts.

'Pet hates'

People guilty of careless driving will face fixed penalties or the chance to go on a driving course, but the more serious examples will continue to go through the courts, where offenders could face much higher fines and penalties.

Many offences currently go unpunished because of the bureaucracy involved in taking a case to court.

Analysis

The Department of Transport has not yet released official guidance on which types of driving will attract fines.

But police are expected to focus on situations involving slightly aggressive and inconsiderate driving, such as:

  • Driving too close to the vehicle in front
  • Failing to give way at a junction (not requiring evasive action by another driver)
  • Overtaking and pushing into a queue of traffic
  • Being in the wrong lane and pushing into a queue on a roundabout
  • Lane discipline, eg needlessly hogging the middle or outside lanes
  • Inappropriate speed
  • Wheel-spins, handbrake turns and other careless manoeuvres

Not only does a motorist have to be stopped by the police, but a summons has to be issued and evidence presented in court.

Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond said: "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."

The AA said responsible drivers would welcome the changes.

"We are also pleased to see that at long last new powers and fines will be given to the police to tackle the top three pet hates of drivers - tailgaters, mobile phone abusers and middle lane hogs," said AA president Edmund King.

RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: "Anti-social behaviour is as big a problem on the roads as it is in wider society.

"Giving police more discretion to act, and freeing up resources to allow them to do so by cutting procedural delays in court, is good news.

"Raising the fine level to £100 is justifiable to tackle the plague of handheld mobile phone use which slows drivers' reaction times even more than being at the drink-drive limit or taking cannabis."

Downplays the offence

Tim Shallcross, Institute of Advanced Motorists: ''For on-the-spot fines, you need on-the-spot policemen''

But the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) said it had concerns about the message sent out by the changes.

Its director of policy Neil Grieg said: "This is a major change in traffic law enforcement and the IAM is concerned that issuing fixed penalty tickets for careless driving downplays the seriousness of the offence.

"Careless covers a wide range of poor to reckless driving behaviour that often merits further investigation.

"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."

Motoring journalist Quentin Willson also questioned whether there would be enough traffic police to make the changes work.

He said: "It's broadly to be welcomed because it marks a shift away from remote policing - that's cameras - to actually using traffic cops.

Motorists' views: "Just a money-making thing'' or "fair enough"?

"But the problem is the amount of traffic police cars has been cut since 1997 by 50%, so the obvious question is 'how do you enforce this?' It's deeply faulted."

Richard Owen from the research group Road Safety Analysis said most motorists would welcome the changes.

He told the BBC: "We already know that the UK's motorways are some of the safest roads in the country, if not Europe.

"But of course, that relies on everybody playing their part and sticking to the rules and I think most motorists would welcome any further enforcement to make sure that people aren't lane hogging or maybe tailgating."

 

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1328.

    Oh come on - be realistic!!! To do this effectively you'll need a permanent fleet of police cars patrolling the motorways!!! I'm sure they have much better things to do with their (valuable) time!!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1327.

    I think somebody needs to do something to sort out this really annoying issue that bugs me everyday on my commute to work. It may not be a perfect solution, but it's a start. Just raising the awareness that you may get pulled over and fined should hopefully be enough to make people think twice about how they drive.
    15 sec rule - If you don't overtake the car in 15 secs, move back in. Simples!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1326.

    dibbler 88. There is still capacity if the middle lane drivers pulled over. The disruption in expand to 4 lanes would offset the benefit - especially in a world where car usage is on the decline (since 2000 in every developed economy in the world). Finally how do you propose that the outer lane is the only one for overtaking? That means the inner 2 lanes can only travel at the same speed? Crazy.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 1325.

    @1274 tbh I drive at 70 and never have this problem, plus its not up to you to move out of the way of joining traffic, this should only be done if safe to do so, its up to the traffic joining to fit in with you. So the answer would be, don't. Let them join behind you, if they dont like it tough, You are following the highway code so therefore fine and correct.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1324.

    @1287. Adrian B - 'Oh yes there is! And I quote from the highway code "only overtake on the left if the vehicle in front is signalling to turn right, and there is room to do so"'

    There is no MUST NOT to that paragraph of the highway code, as there is no specific law against overtaking on the left (and hasn't been for over 40 years)

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1323.

    1258: That is a pain on country roads. People driving 40 in a 60 when its safe to drive 60. It causes accidents as people overtake out of frustration. Its different for a lorry or tractor as you are not expecting them to go fast but normally its a fancy motor that is being driven by a pensioner or woman who can't handle the power.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1322.

    Norman, if the measure stops people who are inacapable of following a simple rule when it comes to overtaking then surely it's a bonus that it also makes money for the government?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1321.

    I have just rec'd a negative comment (1229) presumably because I said I do 55/56 in the inside lane. Why? I am doing the same speed as most of the HGVs & not holding anybody up. If they are legally permitted to do this speed then so am I.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1320.

    It is quite staggering to see some of the ridiculously ill-informed views on here suggesting that driving in the middle lane is correct, not against the highway code and even a fundamental right! The highway code states quite clearly that you should always drive in the left hand lane unless you are overtaking. For all you middle lane hoggers - PLEASE LEARN HOW TO DRIVE CORRECTLY!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1319.

    As anyone who has strayed over a speed limit near a camera triggering the automated £££ fine and points system, or another who has been arrested for stealing someones vehicle and damaging it only to be let off knows - the motorist is by far the more lucrative evil in the eyes of UK law.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1318.

    There seems to be quite a few people under the impression that hogging the middle lane is a time based thing. Let me explain it to you. If the inside lane is taken, and you are in the middle lane; then you are not 'hogging', you are overtaking. If the inside lane is empty and you're in the middle lane; then you're an idiot hogging the middle lane. There is that simple enough for you?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1317.

    The reality is, its another law the Police will not have the time or resources to enforce. If your in the middle lane safely doing 70 are you 'hogging'? Under the law no one else should be passing you or be close enough to tail gate.

    And BBC - which decade is the main photo on the article from. I thought you were supposed to be current.

  • rate this
    -14

    Comment number 1316.

    If people want to overtake you in the middle lane, then they still can by using the fast lane. I don't get this 'hogging' business.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1315.

    Great news and long overdue. I really don't know what these drivers who sit in the middle lane and outer lane think they are doing. We have a network of motorways that are reduced in lane size because it is unlawful to undertake due to inconsiderate drivers who think they are in a scalextric car.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1314.

    Middle Lane Hogs - Stereotypically => Old People, Women or generally any other "underconfident" person who does not want to have to do anything, look in their mirrors or make a decision!
    Tailgaters - Normally "business" men/women or Vans needing to get somewhere too quickly and being held up by the actions of the Lane Hogs bunching up the traffic! On Single roads just "racers" - Boys or Girls!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1313.

    If I want to drive over 70mph then that's my decision and if the Police deem me to be unsafe going faster, then I'll accept the consequences, it's not up to you to slow me down. But to have to consistently change lanes to overtake people doing less than 70mph is the single biggest annoyance on the road, if people used lanes properly just think how much quicker I could get to a destination!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1312.

    Sorry Jim, that's the Highway Code, not the law. There is no law against overtaking on the left.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1311.

    Even worse is the third lane hog on a four lane motorway. Aaaaargh! Everyone stacked up in the fourth lane trying to get around them, while the three lanes to the left are clear - what a waste of tarmac!

  • Comment number 1310.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1309.

    How do you quantify a middle lane hogger? Catching a speeder is pretty obvious but how do you rate what constitutes middle lane hogging. I just think this is going to be too difficult to prove unless the police tailgate the driver and video evidence that they were “hogging” the middle lane. But then there are no courts involved and it will be your word against the bizzies.

 

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