LANE OFFENDERS SET TO PLAGUE MOTORWAYS AS 11.8 MILLION DRIVERS HIT THE ROAD FOR CHRISTMAS
Four in five (82%) drivers have been tailgated while a third (32%) admit to hogging the middle lane.
With over 11.8 million drivers expected on UK roads over the Christmas period1, busy motorways are set to cause significant disruptions – not least caused by inconsiderate lane offenders.
And motorists, who will be driving 77 miles over the festive period1, on average, need to be prepared to tackle these offenders on UK motorways. Research from Confused.com shows four in five drivers (82%) have been tailgated2 while a third (32%) admit to hogging the middle lane3.
Despite a proliferation of poor lane discipline set to infuriate drivers at one of the busiest times of year, it remains a notoriously difficult offence to monitor. “Careless driving” includes offences such as tailgating, middle-lane hogging, undertaking and driving too slowly. Yet only 2,012 drivers fell foul of “careless driving” spot fines in 2016 according to Freedom of Information data obtained by the driver savings site⁴. This is despite the introduction of ‘smart’ motorways, which do not have the means to catch these types of offenders in the act.
And it seems to be an issue that needs to be addressed, given that one in five (19%) of drivers have had an accident or near miss as a result of being tailgated by another driver², while one in 10 (11%) have had a similar experience with a middle-lane hogger3. The number of drivers committing these dangerous offences is not surprising given that the research shows four in five (79%) UK drivers are unaware that tailgating is an offence punishable by at least three points on your licence and a £100 fine². And similarly, two-fifths (37%) are unaware that middle-lane hogging can face the same penalties3.
It’s perhaps no wonder so many drivers are unaware of these offences, given that almost a third (30%) of qualified drivers were never taught to drive on motorways after passing their test.² Thankfully, it will be legal for learner drivers to be taught on motorways from 2018, which could improve awareness of careless driving offences among motorists.
In the meantime, ahead of the Christmas countdown, Confused.com has teamed up with Thames Valley police in a cops-style mini-series to educate drivers on lane discipline. In the films, PC Tony Cope addresses dangerous careless driving behaviours, such as tailgating and middle lane hogging, and believes there is a lack of education; he says ‘when we pull offenders over, a standard response is “I didn’t realise that was an offence”. PC Copes sentiment is reflected in the research with (50%) of motorists agreeing that many drivers are not even aware they are hogging the middle lane in the first place.3
Careless driving by other motorists can cause other motorists to drive dangerously, too. More than two in five (42%) drivers admit to breaking the speed limit and acting inappropriately to overtake a middle-lane hogger.3 And eight in 10 (79%) drivers admit to not knowing the correct distance to leave between their car and the vehicle in front on a motorway at 70mph.²
It is no surprise that almost half (42%) of drivers believe more needs to be done to tackle tailgating and make drivers more aware about careless driving and lane discipline, given that it is the biggest annoyance cited by drivers on the motorway (35%), followed by middle-lane hogging (15%)².
And many drivers are hoping that allowing learner drivers onto the motorway from 2018 will go some way to addressing their frustrations. In fact, one in two (50%) think that middle lane hogging should be focused on, and almost two in three (65%) believe that tailgating should be a priority5.
Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com adds:
“With millions of drivers taking to roads across the UK over the Christmas period, it’s likely that they will come across careless driving offenders on their travels.
“Unfortunately, it’s a difficult crime to catch in the act, and so-called ‘smart’ motorways have yet to address the issue, which contributes to congestion and accidents - not something drivers want to be faced with at Christmas time. Hopefully, allowing learner drivers to practice on motorways from 2018 will be a step towards reducing the number of tailgaters and middle lane hoggers on our roads.
“Drivers who are taking to motorways this Christmas should view our mini-series with Thames Valley Police for advice on how to deal with careless driving offenders and to ensure they don’t accidentally commit these offences themselves.
“Tailgating and middle lane hogging, are not only punishable with points and a fine, but can increase your car insurance premiums. And drivers should do all they can to avoid being lumped with such penalties over an already expensive Christmas period. Drivers concerned about the rising cost of car insurance should shop around online using sites such as Confused.com to compare deals.”
Notes to Editors
- Of the 45 police forces that were contacted from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, sixteen were able to come back with data relating to ‘careless driving’ ‘middle-lane hogging’ and ‘tailgating’
- This figure is made up from the sixteen responses we received that included “driving without due care and attention” and “driving without reasonable consideration,” which falls under the ‘careless driving’ penalty.
5. Figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll 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 30th May and 5th June 2017.