Judging by online comments, tweets and positive support, I can’t be the only one who feels that Kent Police deserve a hearty pat on the back for dealing (appropriately) with a menace of modern motorway driving; the middle-lane road hogger.

Of course it’s not really a modern phenomenon, lane discipline has always been a contentious issue, but it does seem that driving standards are getting worse. (Or maybe I’m just getting old?). Having said that, it has become such a widespread problem, that it even has its own acronym now: MLM (Middle-lane Moron).

Furthermore, this action from the Police is a positive boon to proving that actual, real, live Police officers shouldn’t just be replaced by the ‘yellow vultures’.

3 miles of MLM

Earlier this month, Kent Police followed a motorist on a stretch of the M20 motorway between London and Folkestone, who had caught their attention by hogging the middle-lane for over three miles before being stopped, despite the motorway being clear, and relatively empty.

When stopped, he was adamant that he’d done nothing wrong, claiming that the motorway was empty, in fact, according to the tweet released by Kent Police, the driver refused to accept that it was careless driving. They issued the driver with a Traffic Offence Report (TOR) and reported him for Careless Driving, which could see a £100 fine being issued, along with three penalty points.

Admittedly, the driver wasn’t causing a nuisance as such, so perhaps some may view the penalty as a little harsh, but the reality is that this is lazy, inattentive driving, and better driver education can only happen when instances of such, are spotted.

43% of drivers admit to being a lane-hogger

In a survey that was conducted last year, 43% of respondents admitted to hogging lane two, with most of the drivers claiming that it avoids having to move out of lane when confronted with slower vehicles further down the road. That’s not a great reason.

Slightly better reasoning is that it makes them feel safer – 22% used that to justify it, but worryingly, 11% stated that as they’re driving at the maximum permissible speed limit, no one should driving faster than them, therefore, there was no need for them to pull over. Or perhaps to put it another way – they’re lazy, incompetent and likely to cause an accident.

With ever dwindling numbers of Traffic Police, it can be tempting to admonish other drivers, to make your point that they shouldn’t be doing X, Y or Z by causing an obstruction to them, but this is similar to ‘brake testing’ another driver and will likely cause further issues, be they traffic related, or even putting yourself at personal risk.

Poor driving

I loathe the fact that I have to share the roads with poor drivers – the type that thinks nothing of steering with their knees while sipping their takeaway coffee and checking emails, or that can’t understand why road markings separate different lanes, or even, the drivers that cut across a junction into the oncoming lane to save themselves an extra 0.5 seconds of time when turning right.

Our road laws and regulations have been written to accommodate these drivers; swathes of ‘National Speed Limit’ roads have been reduced to 50, or even 40 mph, we now have traffic islands (roundabouts) that include traffic lights as a permanent fixture, and even ridiculous warning such as ‘Bend in Road’ purely so as these motorists don’t do any injury to themselves, or others.

There was a time that people took pride in their driving prowess; similar to flying an aeroplane, there would be a vast knowledge of rules and etiquette, mechanical inspections were carried out when the driver felt there was a need, they understood the ‘two second’ rule (and abides by it), changing weather conditions meant altering the driving style … today though, driving and owning a car has become so easy that any MLM can do it without a second thought, and that’s the problem.

Better education

We always say that we aren’t taught to drive, but to pass our test, and that should change. Better driver educations starts from day one, and learner drivers should be taught road manners, along with roadcraft, and then (and only then) should they be allowed to put in for their test.

This would reduce such instances of lane-hogging, perhaps even increase the flow of traffic, and make driving a better, more pleasurable experience again.

Should the motorist be prosecuted for careless driving? What should happen to drivers that believe they are the law? Should we teach road manners when learning to drive? Let us know in the comments.

Image credit: Screenshot from video by Zanthas

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