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middle lane hogging is on the increase

Middle lane hogging is getting worse

Official figures show a drop in Fixed Penalty Notices for careless driving, but half of drivers say that middle lane hogging's getting worse

21 March 2019

Half of drivers think middle lane hogging and undertaking are getting worse according to new AA research*, despite official statistics showing that the number of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) for careless driving have dropped by 8.4%

In 2016 police issued 16.8 thousand FPNs for careless driving, but this fell to 15.4 thousand in 2017, the most recent statistics available.

But AA-Populus research shows half of drivers think middle lane hogging (49%) and overtaking on the left/inside (50%) are getting worse. And police recently released a video of a driver travelling for three miles in the middle lane on the M6.

Motorway queue facing camera

One of drivers' top three pet hates

Edmund King, AA Charitable Trust director, said: “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 under-takers are annoying, but the reality is these habits are dangerous. Blocking lanes often leads to other drivers tailgating which itself leads to collisions.

At best, middle lane hogs and under-takers are annoying, but the reality is these habits are dangerous. Blocking lanes often leads to other drivers tailgating which itself leads to collisions
Edmund King, AA Charitable Trust director

“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.”

Not the only bad behaviour that's getting worse

The AA-Populus research also revealed that:

  • Around half of drivers think tailgating is getting worse (55%)
  • 50% think mobile phone use is getting worse
  • 53% think speeding is getting worse, and
  • (47%) think road rage is getting worse

Men(53%) were more likely than women(43%) to say they thought middle lane hogging was getting worse.

There was very little regional variation, with Scottish drivers the least likely to say middle lane hogging was getting worse (44%) and those in the West Midlands the most (53%).

Smart motorways

Lane hogging is also a problem on ‘smart’ motorways without hard shoulders.

Two fifths (38%) of drivers say they will not drive in lane one of a smart motorway where the hard shoulder has been permanently converted into a running lane because they are worried about running into broken down vehicles, according to a survey** of more than 18,000 drivers conducted by the AA.

This in turn leads to a waste of road capacity and more lane hogging and tailgating in other lanes. The AA has consistently called for more lay-bys on smart motorways to allay the fears of drivers.


* Populus received 20, 827 responses from AA members to its online poll between 12 February and 18 February 2019

** Populus received 18,077 responses from AA members to its online poll between 26 April and 3 May 2017

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