Wednesday, April 25

Almost half of British drivers run risk of fine by being middle-lane “hoggers”

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According a to a new study based on 70 hours of motorway footage analysed by insurance firm Direct Line, most British drivers are not aware of, or simply struggle to understand the complexities of, Part 264 of the Highway Code, which reads, “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.”

After the Highway Agency’s herculean endeavour of putting up signs in 2004, the Government was forced to step in and subject middle-lane “hoggers” to fines of up to £100 and points on their driver’s license. Despite all this, a new study carried out by Direct Line exposed the sad truth that 49% of the 2,004 people polled, “said they weren’t even aware that they could be prosecuted for the offence.”

Truthfully, some find that infuriating. Quentin Wilson, a motoring journalist, told the BBC in 2013:

“[you]take umbrage because you know they’re muppets who don’t understand how the motorway works.”

After explaining the intricacies of the offence, the journalist added:

“If they don’t know that there’s going to be lots of other things they don’t know about motorways […] You feel they don’t have the right to travel on this road.”

Rob Miles, of Direct Line, has told the Belfast Telegraph:

“It’s important that we increase awareness of the rules and penalties, primarily because they exist to keep road users safe, but also because drivers face serious fines and endorsements that will stay on their record for four years. […] Academics also believe that middle-lane hogging can increase congestion, as in moderately busy periods people can be trapped in the left-hand lane, unable to overtake slower-moving traffic.”

Such claims however, have been challenged in the past, notably by Benjamin Heydecker, a transport studies professor at University College London. Professor Heydecker, as reported by the BBC, has argued that middle-lane hogging does not increase rates of congestion to the dramatic degree often believed and that people who claim that middle-lane “hoggers” are decreasing the capacity of a motorway by a third are wrong. He said:

“We expected to find a big reduction in capacity. But the answer was surprisingly small. […] They [the hoggers]are moving, so if the traffic is concentrating behind them you still have a flow.”

The debate rages on, yet the law holds firm. Drivers must beware becoming middle-lane “hoggers” as they run the risk of long-term consequences as a result of such behaviour.

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About Author

Matt is a law student at Durham University. As a result of his background as an international student, he has an interest in international affairs as well as politics and film.

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