PRESS RELEASE

 

Middle-lane hogging rife despite fine threat 

-      Almost a third (32%) of drivers admit to being a middle-lane hogger -

 

  • Despite so many admitting to middle-lane hogging, new FOI data reveals police have only charged 135 people with the offence since 2013.
  • More than one in 10 (11%) drivers admit to having experienced a collision or near miss on account of a middle-lane hogger.
  • Almost one in five (19%) drivers say they’ve never been taught about middle-lane hogging.
  • Almost two-fifths (37%) of UK drivers are unaware that middle-lane hogging is an offence punishable by at least three points on your licence.

 

A year on from the first driver being prosecuted for middle-lane hogging (1), almost a third (32%) of motorists still admit to being a middle-lane hogger, according to new research by motoring experts Confused.com. Meanwhile, new FOI police data requested by Confused.com (2) reveals just 135 cases of middle-lane hogging have been recorded since spot fines were introduced by the government in 2013 to tackle “careless driving” (3).

A further look at the FOI data reveals the actual number of drivers caught middle-lane hogging could be much higher. “Careless driving” also includes the likes of tailgating, undertaking and driving too slowly - offences which are often a direct result of middle-lane hogging, even if they’re not recorded as such. In total, 1,158 drivers have fallen foul of “careless driving” spot fines.

However, of the 45 police constabularies that responded to the FOI request, only eightwere able to single out specific instances of middle-lane hogging among these other misdemeanours. This suggests a more consistent approach may be needed across forces nationally to help ensure that middle-lane hogging is being policed effectively.

Despite many drivers middle-lane hogging themselves, the practice is deemed ‘selfish’ by over half (51%) of other road users. An additional 48% believing lane hogging is a leading cause of increased traffic congestion. Meanwhile, over one in 10 drivers (11%) have experienced a vehicle collision or near miss on account of another road user hogging the middle lane. With this in mind, many drivers believe more needs to be done to make motorists aware of the rules of middle-lane hogging. For example, half (50%) believe motorway signs should be used to raise awareness of the dangers.

The research also shows that almost one in five (19%) drivers say they have never been taught about middle-lane hogging. This could help explain why half (50%) of motorists believe that some drivers aren’t even aware that they’re staying put in the middle lane in the first place. While, worryingly, almost two-fifths (37%) of UK drivers are unaware that middle-lane hogging is an offence punishable by at least three points on your licence and a £100 fine.

The malpractice of middle-lane hogging is the second biggest annoyance cited by drivers on the motorway (15%) after tailgating, which irks well over a third (35%) of motorists. It’s not surprising then that many motorists react angrily when meeting a driver on the motorway sticking to the centre. The most common responses to middle-lane hoggers encountered on the road include flashing lights to get them to move over (23%) and undertaking (17%).  Worryingly, in order to overtake a middle-lane hogger, 42% of drivers admit to breaking the speed limit.

When it comes to dealing with middle-lane hoggers, it seems male drivers are more likely to take some form of aggressive action than their female counterparts. Over a quarter (26%) of male drivers say they flash their lights to get middle-lane hoggers to move over, compared with just under one in five (19%) females. Males are also more likely than females to undertake a motorist sat in the middle lane (19% compared with 14%) and break the speed limit to overtake (46% to 38%).

Meanwhile, middle-lane hoggers in Wales are the most likely to have headlights flashed at them by other motorists - 31% of Welsh drivers say they do this. In Northern Ireland you’re more likely to be undertaken if you’re caught hogging the middle lane - a quarter (25%) of drivers confess to reacting this way. Meanwhile, London drivers are the most horn-happy of all UK regions – 11% of drivers will do this if they encounter a middle-lane hogger.

In response, Confused.com teamed up with Thames Valley Police in a motorway mission to educate drivers on the hazards of middle-lane hogging. Policeman Tony Cope stresses the importance of being in an appropriate lane for your speed, and busts myths that hogging the middle lane is safe (something that one in 20 (5%) Brits believe). He also addresses why two-thirds of motorists (66%) polled were wrong in referring to lanes on a motorway as ‘the fast lane’ or ‘the slow lane’.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, says: “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.”

-Ends-

 

Notes to editors

Unless otherwise stated, all figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll research on behalf of Confused.com. This was an online poll of 2,000 UK adults who drive (nationally representative sample). The research was conducted between 8 August and 10 August 2016.

(1)  Ian Stephens was reportedly the first driver to be hit with a fine costing him £940 after driving his white van at 60mph in the central lane of the M62 between Rochdale and Huddersfield last August.

(2)  Confused.com issued a Freedom of Information request to 45 police forces in England, Scotland and Wales, which asked two questions relating to middle-lane hogging offences in the UK:

Q1.       How many people have you charged (e.g. issued a fined/fixed penalty notice) with ‘middle-lane hogging’ since the law was introduced in 2013 (please provide a year-on-year breakdown)? 

Q2.      Please also indicate how many fines/fixed penalties your force area issued which may be related to ‘middle-lane hogging’ including 1) undertaking 2) tailgating and 3) driving too slow.

(3)  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-penalties-to-tackle-tailgating-and-middle-lane-hogging