There is one thing that could make a vast difference to everyone who drives on the UK’s roads, and maybe, just maybe, it could happen next year if there’s a change of government.
Not that I’m advocating a Tory government, but I can’t see any other way that this could happen, this being tackling the endemic inability of many drivers to use the country’s multi-lane roads properly. That’s those people that cannot deal with moving from lane two or three back into lane one, for whatever peculiar reason has installed itself in their dulled brains telling them that it’s okay to sit there while vehicles under and overtake them.
Of course it is actually against the law to sit in the outside lane of a motorway. Problem is, nobody is aware of it and nobody will do anything about it. Least of all the people that are supposed to do something about it, the police and the government, all of whom seem uninterested in sorting out what has become a clear indicator of the inefficiencies in the way our roads are used.
So maybe, following the election of a new government and a new Secretary of State for Transport, it’s time for a concerted effort to deal with this. Rather than either building our way out of congestion (which, judging by the way the new four-and five-lane sections of the M25 fill up doesn’t really seem to work) or spending vast amounts on controlled motorways, perhaps a new government should spend some time getting the population to drive a little better.
To kick it off, how about making every single matrix sign on every motorway in the country display a message, like “It’s illegal to sit in the outside lane, you idiots. Now stop being an inconsiderate and pull over.” Or something like that. And have that message displayed for weeks and weeks and weeks. You’d need to vary it with other messages occasionally to stop people switching off to it, but it would be crucial to keep it up. They could even put up some permanent signs on really busy bits of motorway. Then bombard service stations with literature, including posters above the urinals and on the back of toilet doors. Get the press on side, and instead of never returning their calls (which is what we suffer with the DfT and the Highways Agency) actively seek their support for a campaign. And then keep this up for months.
None of it would be particularly expensive or require lots of new technology, unlike the controlled motorways idea, but it would make a huge difference to the UK’s roads in 2010.