Lane hogging and undertaking are getting worse, drivers say

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Public opinion contrasts with police data that suggests the number of offences is falling.

Around half of drivers think lane-hogging and undertaking are becoming more prevalent on British roads, according to new research.

An AA study of almost 21,000 drivers found that 49 percent said they thought lane-hogging was getting more common, while 50 percent said overtaking on the inside was an increasingly regular sight.

The evidence suggests the problem is widespread, too, with little variation between regions. Scottish drivers, however, were the least likely to say lane-hogging was getting worse, with just 44 percent claiming to see the problem more regularly than before. In contrast, drivers in the West Midlands were most likely to say lane-hogging has become rife, with 53 percent expressing such an opinion.

But tailgating and lane-hogging were far from the only bad habits that drivers think are on the rise. Some 55 percent said they thought tailgating was on the up, while 53 percent think speeding is getting worse and 47 percent think road rage is becoming more common.

Young man experiencing road rage in his car

Although the survey did not uncover any reasons for the increase, a previous survey of more than 18,000 motorists revealed that smart motorways could be playing a part. That research found that 38 percent of motorists would not drive on the inside lane of a motorway that had converted the hard shoulder into a running lane for fear of colliding with a broken-down vehicle.

However, a look at official statistics could suggest that drivers’ belief in increased cases of lane-hogging could be mere perception. Government figures reveal a drop in the number of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) doled out for careless driving. The data shows that 16,800 FPNs were handed out for the offence in 2016, but that fell 8.4 percent to 15,400 in 2017.

UK police vehicle on a wet road with the blue lights on

But, Edmund King, the director of the AA Charitable Trust, said the reduction in penalties handed out by police was more likely to be a sign of under-funded police forces than a drop in offending.

“Middle lane hogs are always in the top three pet hates of drivers, so it doesn’t help harmony on the roads if drivers perceive the problem is getting worse. At best, middle lane hogs and undertakers are annoying, but the reality is these habits are dangerous. Blocking lanes often leads to other drivers tailgating which itself leads to collisions.

“The drop in Fixed Penalty Notices for careless driving probably points more to a reduction in traffic police than it does to a meaningful change in behaviour. Hopefully allowing learner drivers on motorways will lead to a new generation of drivers who better understand lane discipline.”

M6 motorway traffic moving at speed in UK

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