The facts about hogging the middle lane
Part 264 of the Highway Code states: "You should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear. If you are overtaking a number of slower-moving vehicles, you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past."
But middle lane hogging has become somewhat of an epidemic on Britain’s roads, and some drivers find it one of the most frustrating driving habits.
But what’s really so bad about hogging the middle lane, and why does it really matter?
What is middle lane hogging?
Middle lane hogging happens when a driver ignores part 264 of the Highway Code (read above!) and stays in the middle lane on a motorway for longer than they need to, and not moving back over to the left when it is clear.
This includes driving in the middle lane when there are no cars to overtake on the left.
Why do people drive in the middle lane?
No one is really 100% crystal clear as to why people hog the middle lane of the motorway.
A study conducted by Leeds University explored why some of us like to sit in the middle lane. It claims that the older you get, the more likely you are to stick to the centre of the road.
Another reason may be the fact that changing lanes is deemed to be one of the riskiest parts of driving on the motorway. Therefore, it’s easier to sit in the middle lane as you aren’t as likely to get stuck behind slow traffic and not to speed either.
Why is middle lane hogging so bad?
Hogging the middle lane can ultimately cause more congestion. This is because over-taking traffic will have one less lane in order to pass you – especially as undertaking, although not strictly illegal, isn’t advised as it is very dangerous to do on British roads.
Slow drivers in the middle lane cause accidents due to the fact that people are rushing trying to overtake them in the lane to the right. Research by the Department for Transport in 2017 has shown that casualties in crashes which are caused by slow drivers have gone up by a third in just a year, totalling at 175 injuries and 2 deaths!
Undertaking is bad driving practice. This is when you pass a slower vehicle in front of you on the left rather than the right.
When we are learning to drive, we are taught not to undertake, and what’s more, if you are caught undertaking you can be penalised for careless driving.
When should you be in the middle lane?
When driving on a motorway, you are encouraged to stay left unless:
- You are overtaking slower vehicles in the left-hand lane
- There is traffic so you cannot pull over to the left as there isn’t room
- When there are cars trying to join the main carriageway from the slip road if there is plenty of room.