Research out this week from Confused.com showed that 82% of drivers say they have been tailgated and 24% admit to hogging the middle lane. The same survey found that 19% of drivers have had an accident or near miss as a result of being tailgated, while 11% had a similar experience with a middle land hogger. Despite these figures, they do not appear to be reflected in the level of fines issued for these offences.
Both tailgating and hogging the middle lane are classified as “Careless Driving”, along with undertaking and driving too slowly. A Freedom of Information Act request by Confused.com found that only 2,012 drivers were issued with on the spot fines for careless driving in 2016.
Michelle Horrobin, Product Manager for All Fleet Services, Fleet Fine Online product, commented:
“The number of drivers committing these dangerous offences is not so surprising when you consider that the Confused.com research also showed that 79% of UK drivers are unaware that tailgating is an offence punishable by at least three points on your licence and a £100 fine. Similarly, 37% are unaware that middle-lane hoggers can face the same penalties. All Fleet Service’s experience of these offences mirrors the results of this Freedom of Information Act request, when you consider that in 2017 we managed only 300 fine for careless / inconsiderate driving, a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands that we processed on behalf of our clients”.
One compelling theory for why there is such a low awareness of these offences, is that 30% of qualified drivers were never taught to drive on a motorway. That will soon change when on a date later this year (yet to be announced), learners will be allowed on motorways with their instructors.
Smart Motorways which from March this year will be issuing penalty charge notices for use of closed lanes, have yet to find a way to automatically catch drivers who tailgate or middle lane hog. Darren Stevens, Marketing Director of All Fleet Services added: “Given the scale of this problem, it is bound to be only a matter of matter of when and not if technology develops to enable Smart Motorways to automatically penalise these offences. When this happens if this research is indicative of the wider population, this could lead to a huge spike in fines”.