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 1348.

    There is a difference between DRIVING in the middle lane and HOGGING the middle lane. If there is space to your left and traffic behind you, don't you think you should move out of the way?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1347.

    1276.
    Lee Grant
    6 Minutes ago

    Did I accidentally hit my break light when somebody is tail-gaiting me? - I do apologise!
    ---
    You may want to get that break fixed, or did you mean brake :-)

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1346.

    #1306 The BMW, Audi and Merc idiots are not all boy racers. Many that I see every morning are well old enough to know better but most of them earn enough that they don't care about piddling fines of £100. Perhaps we should base the fine amount on the value of the vehicle.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1345.

    @1334 - Nicky. Go to Germany, or France. Get on a motorway. Watch how they manage to do exactly that without crashing. And that's with 'idiots' doing 155mph.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1344.

    great idea, maybe they could also throw on the spot fines at cyclists who continually jump red lights or have no lights which is common practice especially in cities, even though they share the same road as motorists for some reason cyclists seem immune from prosecution?

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 1343.

    We have some of the most congested yet some of the safest roads in the World.
    Yet again the Government and its cronies want to beat us with a big stick. I bet a large number of accidents are caused by foreign truck drivers, how about beating them with the same stick?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1342.

    should focus more on dangerous drivers who drive too slowly, ie people who drive at 30mph on the left lane on a 2 lane dual carriageway

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 1341.

    Sometimes the center lane is the only safe place to be.
    I remember driving up the center lane of a nearly deserted M20 because it was raining hard and the "tramlines" indented into the surface of the LH lane by trucks was causing aquaplaning.

    Also I'll be blowed if I'm expected to weave blindly in an out of heavy spray on a busy M/way when it's safer to see and be seen in the center lane.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1340.

    Lol at 1277. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has noticed this phenomena. Without fail on the M6 beween 11 and 14 this happens at 2 or 3 points, the gantry says 40 everyone slows and eventually stopsthere's no accident or stranded vehicle, then next gantry says "clear" and within 10 seconds back up and running again. Traffic Management on M42 however works a treat

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1339.

    It's about time there is emphasis on the 'other' aspects of road safety besides speed. These ill-mannered selfish people ought to be pulled into line. They should also introduce on-the-spot fines to tackle the other idiots who drive with their fog lights on regardless of weather conditions.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1338.

    Only I am a good enough driver to be on the road, ergo there is no need to overtake and I can sit in whichever lane I choose

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1337.

    I agree with the increase in mobile phone fines as that is just dangerous given how bad some people's driving already is. With regards to Motorway, I would have thought a more reasonable approach would be increase national speed limit to 80 mph, limit HGV and other vehicles with speed limiters to Lane 1, freeing up lanes 2 and 3. Also would reduce number of accidental caused by HGVs

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1336.

    @1312 NJBeckett - and that's what I do - as long as safe. Especially if on the motorbike.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1335.

    Sticking to the middle on an empty motorway forcing others to cross multiple lanes to overtake is wrong. But it's equally wrong to bully those properly doing 70mph in the middle lane if there is heavy traffic (a line of HGVs) in the left hand lane (into which the impatient driver wouldn't dream of entering). "I'd rather you were forced to do 60mph than I go under 75mph" is a disgusting attitude.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1334.

    I don't sit in the middle lane but can understand why people do because of all the lorries, and if you drive at the speed limit and start weaving from the slow to middle lane it's far more dangerous for other road users and idiots that are driving at 80+ !

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1333.

    You are supposed to drive in the left hand most lane possible at the time - I once failed my driving test for being undertaken by 2 cars on a dual carriageway, and since then have been very particular about my lane discipline. There is no excuse for not pulling over to the left hand most lane, even more so when there is no traffic!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1332.

    I am happy to see lane hoggers being punished but isnt this just going to encourage those lane hoggers in the middle and fast lanes to go faster? Seems like a strange thing for the police to encourage.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1331.

    I drive over 1000 miles a week and this has to be my biggest gripe and it's about time something was done about it, it causes frustration and unnecessary delays for other drivers, yet we still get the same old excuses from drivers who insist they're in the right...remember KEEP LEFT if your not overtaking...Simple!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1330.

    There also exists the problem with SatNav units. How many times have you seen the instruction 'Keep Right' for the road that filters round to the right, only to see cars sweep across to the right and sit there.

    I dont have a problem with people sitting in the middle lane, as long as they are paying attention to the road and move left if someone is approaching from behind and lane 1 is clear.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1329.

    Lots of comments about how dangerous it would be to frequently change between lanes 1 and 2 - do these people have no understanding of checking mirrors and indicating? I typically drive around 75-80mph (the de facto speed limit), spending most of my time in lane 1, and moving between lanes when necessary to overtake. It's really not difficult!

 

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