During the weekend, as I made a couple of 80-mile journeys on the M3, I chewed over the recent news that the police are to get increased powers to issue on-the-spot fines for careless driving offences — such as poor lane discipline and tailgating.
The move has been made following “extensive public consultation” according to the Department for Transport, so on the face of it this seems to be a case of giving the people exactly what they want.
If it leads to more traffic officers keeping our roads safe, that’s a positive step. But in my view, the new powers seem to contain some vagueness that could make them counterproductive.
According to AA president Edmund King, middle-lane hogs are “a pet hate” alongside mobile phone users and tailgaters.
I don’t think hogs should be vilified in quite the same way. Using a handheld mobile phone, like not wearing a seatbelt, is black-and-white; if you get caught, you can’t really argue with an on-the-spot fine, points or whatever else comes your way. Similarly, tailgating really could endanger life by not leaving sufficient stopping distance and a clamp down should be welcomed.
However, middle lane hogs, while infuriating, do not actually endanger lives in the same way. Yes, hogs are frustrating, but for any skilled driver they are easy to spot and usually stick to a consistent speed, so can be negotiated with a little bit of patience and forethought.