Motorway tailgaters and middle-lane hoggers are to face quick justice with on-the-spot penalties under new measures announced by the government.
From July, police will be able to issue £100 fines and three points for careless driving offences that would currently have to go to court.So middle lane hoggers are 'dangerous' now, are they? Sorry, but that's quite a stretch, and that so many have swallowed this flimsy justification.and nodded along approvingly just shows how our country's definition of 'danger' has deteriorated in the past decade, and also how blasé about civil liberties our population has become.
Being in transport, I fucking hate middle lane hoggers very much more than most. They are ignorant of the guidelines of the motorway as well as being astoundingly ignorant people in themselves for their lack of courtesy for other road users. There have been times where I've struggled to comprehend how anyone can be so very unaware of what is happening around them.
However, when thinking rationally about them, they do little more than hold me up for a minute or two and cause me to execute a manoeuvre I'd rather not be doing. When driving professionally for as many years as I have, you learn to stay calm about many stupidities you see on the road, lane hoggers being just one of them.
But the public - who have all been mildly irritated by a hogger at some point - are quite happy about this legislative expression of vindictiveness despite it presenting the abandonment of road safety as a premise for state enforcement of punishment. Those few minutes added to a 200 mile journey are enough to break out the penalty charge version of torches and pitchforks, while the precedent ceded to those who simply shouldn't be allowed it is ignored.
Are politicians really now saying being a bit annoying on the road merits a £100 fine? Yes, it seems they are. We all hate lane hoggers, don't we, so it's fine and MPs will be lauded ... there may even be a lot of votes in it, eh? It's nothing to do with road safety any more, even though some will try to say it is.
The issue comes down to safety, Heydecker says. While he doesn't accept that lane hoggers significantly reduce motorway capacity, they do raise drivers' blood pressure by their behaviour.So the 'danger' would appear to be the road rage it might cause in impatient drivers. If you want safer roads, wouldn't it be better not to validate drivers who are prone to raising their own blood pressure for something as easily - even if inconveniently - countered by simply "mirror, signal, manoeuvre". If that's too difficult, perhaps they shouldn't be on the road either.
We've seen public health laws based on pretend health threats to satisfy the intolerant; now we're seeing the DfT invent road dangers to pander to the impatient.
|A driver happy about the new rule, pictured yesterday|
I mentioned civil liberties because it's something that no-one spoke about in all the blanket coverage yesterday.
Objections were almost exclusively about how it would be difficult to enforce, not that it shouldn't be enforced in the first place (and I hope it won't be, just like the ridiculous child booster seat nonsense).
The nation's foremost state-funded road safety fake charity, BRAKE, were quick to say that they loved the idea ... except that the fine should be £1000! Well, I suppose they would, it was like government handing them a blank cheque for future grant applications, just imagine the studies they can commission; the criticism they can lay on authorities which don't levy enough fines. They also called for lane hogging to be made a criminal offence which, of course, leads to a criminal record and all that it entails.
That smug schadenfreude doesn't look too clever now, does it?
Meanwhile, no-one seemed to worry that the police are now to be judge, jury and executioner on who is lane hogging and who isn't. If they simply don't like you for any reason, wham! £100 fine for being in the middle lane 30 seconds too long sunshine, have a nice day.
The unintended consequences this silly idea will facilitate are simply not worth appeasing the misplaced superiority some road users think they wield over others. It won't make anyone safer, either.
Middle lane hoggers can go to Hell as far as I'm concerned, but I hope this Westminster stupidity goes the same way well before them.
See also: Another pathetic road rule proposal last year based similarly on nothing but selfishness and intolerance.