Breaking the law

* Middle-lane hoggers exposed * Costing the economy billions * Causing accidents, too...

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What Car? Staff
09 April 2010

Breaking the law

Middle-lane hogs are not only lazy and careless, theyre also flouting the Highway Code by failing to notice the empty left lane and queues of traffic behind they demonstrate a dangerous lack of attention. They also encourage other road users to tailgate
or undertake them.

Using lane two when lane one is freely available can cause frustration to other drivers and provoke them to carry out dangerous manoeuvres, says chief inspector Polly King of the Avon and Somerset Constabulary Roads Policing Unit. The figures back her up, because lane-changing is a factor in around 25% of motorway crashes.

Philip Gomm from the RAC Foundation, agrees. Drivers feel they will get to their destination quicker by avoiding the inside lane, yet by moving out they only cause more stop-start motoring, which reduces average speeds and increases the risk of accidents.

Department for Transport (DfT) figures show that on the M42 near Birmingham, one journey in 10 involves delays of 11 minutes or more per 10 miles during the evening rush hour. On average, over the worst motorway journeys, drivers were delayed by 3.6 minutes for every 10 miles they travelled in 2009.

Theres an economic cost to congestion and its getting higher all the time. Motorways account for less than 1% of the road network, but they carry 20% of the nations traffic, and two-thirds of the countrys freight transport. The RAC Foundation estimates that up to a third of the motorways capacity is wasted due to poor lane discipline.

The growing cost of congestionThe Eddington Transport Study, which examined the long-term links between transport and the UKs economic productivity, estimated that congestion could cost the UKs economy 22 billion a year by 2025. Transport is essential for getting people to work, products to market and supporting supply chains nationally and internationally, and the study found that reducing journey times for business users by 5% would save around 2.5 billion each year.