Highways England has joined forces with Cheshire Police to warn drivers that they are ‘more likely to encounter an undertaker’ if they stay in the middle lane.
Adverts at five motorway Services will advise lane hoggers that they could face a £100 on-the-spot fine and three penalty points, and electronic message signs are being used to encourage drivers to stay safe by keeping left.
A new survey of nearly 300 Cheshire drivers, commissioned by Highways England, has also found that one in seven (15%) admit to road rage if they encounter a middle-lane hogger, saying they either flash their headlights or cut them up.
Just under half of all motorists (45%) also believe lane hoggers are among the most dangerous drivers on the motorway.
The campaign follows the first prosecution for lane hogging last month after new legislation was introduced giving the police powers to issue on-the-spot fines.
Roads Minister Andrew Jones said:
Careless drivers put lives at risk and are also a major source of concern and irritation for law-abiding motorists.
That’s why we’ve made it easier for the police to tackle problem drivers like middle lane hoggers by allowing them to issue on-the-spot fines rather than having to take every offender to court.
The pilot initiative aims to substantially reduce the amount of lane hogging on Cheshire’s motorways and could be rolled out across England if it proves to be a success.
Alan Shepherd, North West Regional Director at Highways England, said:
There’s a common belief that the middle lane is the safest place to be on the motorway but our research shows that simply isn’t true.
One in seven motorists admit to driving aggressively if they encounter a lane hogger, which means people who permanently stay in the middle lane are more likely to be involved in an accident. They also cause tailbacks behind them as drivers who follow the Highway Code have to slow down to overtake them.
We hope this new campaign will get the message across to Cheshire motorists that the safest place to be on a motorway is the left lane, unless you’re overtaking. That way we’ll keep our motorways moving and reduce accidents.
Last month, a van driver was ordered to pay almost £1,000 and received five penalty points after he was spotting travelling at 60mph in the middle lane on the M62, blocking six drivers who had to brake and then overtake.
Inspector Richard Hill, from Cheshire Police’s Roads Policing Unit, said:
People often feel that if they are in the middle lane of the motorway they are in the safest place when in fact they are potentially putting themselves and other road users in danger.
Sitting in the middle lane not only causes aggravation for other motorists, it can cause accidents and leave you with a fine if you are caught.
Adverts at five motorway Services in Cheshire will warn drivers that middle lane hogging is now an offence, which could lead to a prosecution, during the 12-week campaign.
One advert shows a car coasting in the middle lane with the warning ‘More likely to encounter an undertaker’. Another shows a car sticker on a vehicle parked illegally in a disabled bay, with the slogan ‘My other car hogs lanes’.
Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.
Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.