• Careless driving proves notoriously hard to catch as only 2,012 drivers fell foul of offences in 2016 as ‘smart’ motorways struggle to address the issue(1).
• More than an eighth (13%) of drivers have had an accident or near miss as a result of tailgating, and a further one in eight (12%) as a result of middle-lane hogging.
• Two thirds (66%) of drivers are unaware lane offences are punishable by three points and a £100 fine.
• MINI SERIES: Watch Confused.com team up with Thames Valley police to educate lane offenders.
Lane offences remain an issue that is plaguing roads as a worrying number of drivers admit to middle lane hogging and tailgating, despite being a punishable offence.
New research by Confused.com revealed that almost one in four (24%) UK drivers admit they have hogged the middle lane, while almost one in five (18%) have tailgated another driver.
But despite a proliferation of poor lane discipline 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 site(1). This is despite the introduction of ‘smart’ motorways, which seems to 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 more than one in eight (13%) drivers have had an accident or near miss caused by tailgating, while a almost one in eight (12%) have had a similar experience due to middle lane hogging. The number of drivers committing these dangerous offences is not surprising given that the research shows two thirds (66%) UK drivers are unaware that these offences are punishable by at least three points on your licence and a £100 fine.
Evidently, there seems to be some need for educating current drivers on the road, and so Confused.com has teamed up with Thames Valley police in a cops-style mini-series to teach them more on lane discipline. In the films, PC Tony Cope addresses dangerous careless driving behaviours, such as tailgating and middle lane hogging. PC Cope 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 as more than half (54%) of those who admit to middle lane hogging say they did so accidentally.
But there are also many drivers out there who are knowingly hogging the middle lane despite the repercussions. In fact, more than a third (37%) of middle lane hoggers admit they drive in the middle lane because it makes their drive easier and saves changing lanes. While a further one in three (33%) say they drive in the middle lane because it feels safer. Meanwhile, known-tailgaters blame other drivers for their actions, with almost two thirds (63%) saying they often do it because other drivers are going too slow. And dealing with these offences can also be a challenge, so Confused.com has created an advice guide to help drivers keep their cool when under the pressure of tailgaters.
But with so many drivers admitting they are a lane offender, it’s no wonder almost half (49%) of drivers believe more needs to be done to educate drivers about the correct lane usage, and a third (36%) think more needs to be done to tackle lane offenders. This is not surprising given tailgating it is the biggest annoyance cited by drivers on the motorway (22%), with one in four (25%) saying they find themselves being tailgated at least once a week. Middle-lane hogging followed as the second most annoying behaviour by motorists on motorways (17%). But with learner drivers able to take lessons on motorways from 4th June this year(2) perhaps there will be a better awareness of careless driving offences among motorists.
Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com says: “Unfortunately, lane offences are difficult crimes to catch in the act, but hopefully by allowing learner drivers to practice on motorways from 4th June is a step towards reducing the number of tailgaters and middle lane hoggers on our roads.
“Our mini-series with Thames Valley Police highlights just how many motorists fall foul of these offences, and also helps drivers to avoid getting into these situations. Those caught in the path of a tailgater might also feel pressured into putting their foot down and getting out of the way, but our guide can also help them to deal with this safely.
“Tailgating and middle lane hogging, are not only punishable with points and a fine, but can increase your car insurance premiums in an already-expensive time for motoring. 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
Unless otherwise stated, 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 3rd April and 5th April 2018.
1. 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:
- 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)?
- How many people have you charged (e.g. issued a fined/fixed penalty notice) with ‘tailgating’ since the law was introduced in 2013 (please provide a year-on-year breakdown)?
- Please also indicate how many fines/fixed penalties your force area issued which may be related to either ‘middle-lane hogging’ or ‘tailgating’ including 1) undertaking 2) driving too slow etc.
i. 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’
ii. 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.
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Launched in 2002, Confused.com was the UK's first price comparison site for car insurance and is one of the UK’s biggest and most popular price comparison services, generating over one million quotes per month. It has expanded its range of comparison products over the last couple of years to include small van insurance, motorcycle insurance, car buying and selling, and car finance, as well as a number of tools designed to save drivers money on motoring.
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