DUNCAN BARKES: Why are we obsessed with the middle lane?

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I AM fascinated by this country’s obsession with ‘middle lane hoggers’.

The guiltiest of moaners appears to be the kind of motorist who wears string-backed driving gloves and rests on a beaded seat cover.

Of course the ‘hoggers’ can be slightly irritating, but the angst they seem to generate is way off the scale.

New powers came into force on Friday that mean those caught cruising in the middle lane of the motorway could face a fine of 100 quid, plus three penalty points on their licence.

The punishment can be handed out under the new offence of ‘careless driving’.

Many are jubilant that those who hog the middle lane may finally get their comeuppance, but I fail to see what the fuss is about.

And clearly I am not alone. A survey for the AA suggests around 12 million motorists deliberately hog the middle lane.

As someone who does many motorway miles, I occasionally occupy the middle lane.

This is usually because the nearside lane is full of lorries that are unwisely close to each other, or those motorists who seem unable to get above 45mph.

Meanwhile the outside line is full of speeding salesman in their BMWs or Audis, all pretending to be Jenson Button.

I have never understood why middle-lane drivers wind up so many people.

And those who get angry behave appallingly on the roads: tailgating, flashing their lights and honking their horn.

Does this make them a better and safer driver than the one in front? Of course not!

Clearly there is an education issue here.

The findings from the AA also show that around 40 per cent of younger drivers admit to staying in the middle lane in free-flowing traffic because they incorrectly believe it to be the ‘cruising lane’.

Perhaps this supports the argument for motorway driving to be incorporated into the driving test?

The Highway Code clearly states both the middle and outside lanes are designed for overtaking only.

Obviously I am not advocating breaking the law, but I understand why many prefer the middle lane of the motorway.

Anyway, given the cuts to the police force in this country, I’m not entirely convinced this new offence will be effectively monitored.

Happy motoring…