We’ve all been there – moving swiftly along in the first lane, our speedier brethren overtaking on the right and a few slower folk up ahead in the distance, when suddenly we’re faced with that all-too-common driver’s dilemma: there’s nobody in front, but in the second lane is some misguided motorist chugging along at 60mph and seemingly without any awareness of the rest of the road around. You can’t undertake, but overtaking means a quick and dangerous dash to the third lane. What gives?
On the one hand, it’s easy to forgive someone getting stuck cruising in the middle lane. It’s a comfortable place to be, with plenty of space to the left and right, the option to move either one way or the other as necessary, and plenty of room for other drivers to drive around. But for many drivers, the middle lane is where sense and awareness go to take a break. Unaware of others around them, these waddling sows are putting themselves and others in considerable danger.
The middle lane exists to allow drivers moving at an intermediate speed to overtake those slower drivers in the first lane without getting in the way of the faster drivers coming up in the third lane. Basically, it allows for three speed levels at all times, each moving parallel to each other, with the option to temporarily move into another lane to pick up or pull back the pace a little.
So, what’s the problem with middle lane hogging? Well, let’s go back to the scenario: you’re in the first lane, there’s a car moving slower than you in the second lane, and you want to get past whilst there’s faster traffic coming up on the inside lane. You could undertake, but A) this is illegal, and B) it can be extremely dangerous – drivers don’t expect vehicles to be closing in on them on the left, so will often turn back into the left lane without checking who’s there. If you’re there trying to undertake, you’re both in for a roasting. Alternatively, you can overtake. However, this will mean both slowing down in your lane, causing others in your lane to also slow down, pulling into the middle lane to get behind the other driver, and then pulling across into the fastest traffic on the right just to get past someone who should really have been in the first lane all along. That’s a lot of unnecessary and risky manoeuvring just to get one car ahead.
Likewise, if you’re rightly moving in the middle lane with slower movers to the left and faster drivers to the right, then a hogger coming up in the rear can also cause dangerous situations. Fast-moving hoggers are those who by all rights should move into the third lane to overtake but for some reason seem to consider the middle lane to be their private pigsty – and other drivers as inconvenient chunks of truffle to gobble out of the way.
So, what can you do?
Thankfully, although you may not have known it, the law is on your side. In 2013, hogging the middle lane of a motorway was made a ‘careless driving’ offence, and can be punished by a £100 fine on the spot if caught by police. Annoyingly, though, the law seems to be proving difficult to implement and doesn’t seem to be changing the hoggers’ attitudes.
According to a survey by Confused.com, 32% of drivers admitted that they still don’t move into the left lane if it’s clear of traffic, and a surprisingly high 37% of drivers had no idea that being caught hogging the middle lane could cost them a £100 fine. That’s little surprise, however, as since the law has been implemented, up to September this year only 135 tickets had been issued for the offence over three years.
The insurer revealed the stats after it made a request for information to 45 police constabularies in the UK, but they said there could have been many more examples of the offence covered by penalties for other aspects of careless driving. The umbrella term includes other offences including tailgating, driving too slowly, and undertaking, and all of these offences are a common result of middle-lane hogging even if they aren’t recorded as such.
Only eight of the police forces spoken to could pinpoint any specific instances of middle-lane hoggers being fined, with an overall 1,158 fines being issued for broader ‘careless driving’ offences during the three year period.
There is another solution, you could treat yourself to a nice Cayman, and spend your motorway drivetime enjoying the third lane until you can safely land in the first lane. We’re sure you’ll agree that the Porsche Cayman leasing deals we have are most affordable, considering the quality of the car.
Who’s on your side?
Thankfully, all hope is not lost. In Confused.com’s poll, it also questioned drivers who were against middle-lane hogging and found that just over half – 51% – thought hogging was a ‘selfish’ thing to do, with 48% believing it leads to increased traffic congestion and 10% reporting having experienced a collision or near miss because another motorist had been stubbornly sticking to the middle lane.
Ideas to tackle the issue include motorway sings to highlight the dangers of hogging, as well as better education of drivers in the first place – almost one in five respondents to the survey said that they had never been taught about middle-lane hogging at all and were ignorant of its dangers.. Confused.com also went out with Thames Valley Police following the poll to educate drivers about the dangers of hogging.
Amanda Stretton, Confused.com’s motoring editor, said: ‘There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding middle-lane hogging, so it was great to go out on the road and see how the offence is policed.
‘It was astounding to see just how many hoggers there really are, clogging up the motorway when the left-hand lane was entirely clear.
‘Middle lanes aren’t for coasting in, because this practice can cause congestion and dangerous manoeuvres from other drivers.
‘Not only could you find yourself with a £100 fine or points, but you could put your own life and others at risk.’
The Hoggers: a Guide
We all know who they are and we all know what they do, but defining the middle laner is no easy task. This mysterious breed can be found in one of an almost infinite number of guises extending from personal appearance to the vehicles they drive. They can be almost anyone it seems, moving at almost any speed but always towards nowhere in particular, neither left nor right, but always straight ahead.
Still, we’ve given a good shot at outlining a few familiar faces you’ll find in your way. We’re displeased to introduce you to:
A character of British culture like no other, The Snob knows their place in the world, and it isn’t on the inside lane. To The Snob, the inside lane is the place for a lower class of driver. It’s for slow cars owned by poor people, and to drive in it would be highly degrading unless preparing to take leave of the common man’s carriageway for good and head back into civilised suburbia. You can sometimes spot The Snob by the angle at which they hold their head, watching the road ahead over their glasses and along the bridge of their nose. Try not to annoy them by either overtaking in a less expensive car or by making them overtake you when you’re in the appropriate lane.
The Bone Idle
Laziness can be identified as the cause of many of the world’s problems, not least middle lane hogging. The middle lane presents an easy life for the hogger, removing any need to change lanes at sliproads, check the mirrors, or – that most inconvenient of lifesaving signals – to indicate. The Bone Idle driver is in it for the ride, the pure joy of cruising almost without thought to their final destination. To them, the middle lane is essentially a bus lane, and they are the passenger who just so happens to be in control of the bus. They will not notice you, and they will not move for you. It’s simply too much effort. Spot The Bone Idle by their vacant expression and apparent ignorance of anything beyond their comfortable cabin.
The Man in a Van with a Bun in his Hand
In a way, we can all sympathise with The Man in a Van with a Bun in his Hand. He’s had a long day – probably a long week – of driving the same bland stretch of motorway day in, day out, and he’s just about had enough of the Highway Code. He’s taking a break from the monotony of signalling this way, signalling that, moving into this lane, moving into that – he’s having his lunch, it’s dripping into his lap, and that’s just about all he can handle at the moment. Still, those fingers wet with the grease form his Egg McMuffin have more uses than he realises, and it really wouldn’t take much to signal, move over, and get out of the way. Spot him by the yolk running down his chin.