Signs target the motorway hoggers

A new attempt to educate some of Britain's most irritating drivers gets underway today.

Two new safety messages will be unveiled on busy motorways urging motorists not to lurk needlessly in the middle lane.

To be shown on 30 signs on the M1, M6, M18 and M62 for one week starting from 10am today, the messages read "Keep Left Unless Overtaking" and "Don't Hog the Middle Lane".

Motorway signs in Cheshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and South Yorkshire will be used in the campaign.

The Highways Agency is testing driver reaction to the messages as part of its campaign to reduce accidents on England's motorways.

Roads Minister David Jamieson said today: "We are committed to tackling congestion and making our roads safer. Poor lane discipline causes frustration to drivers and can disrupt the flow of traffic.

"We have all seen people on the motorway sitting in the wrong lane and experienced the inconvenience and congestion it causes. Just sticking to the simple rule of staying left unless overtaking could bring real benefits to all road users."

Ginny Clarke, the agency's chief highways engineer, said: "We have chosen these two messages to remind drivers of the safe driving advice in the Highway Code.

"We want drivers to think about how they are using motorway lanes. Are they taking care when overtaking, signalling in good time and keeping a safe distance between their vehicle and others?

"Or are they spending too long in the middle or outside lanes, and causing frustration to other drivers when they could safely return to an inside lane?"

The results of the week-long trial will be studied by the Highways Agency.

The Agency will then consider how safety messages such as those displayed today can be used most effectively on its road network.

Last month the RAC Foundation said drivers hogging the middle and outside lanes were "stealing" up to 700 miles of motorway space from others in peak periods - equivalent to the distance from Aberdeen to Penzance and a third of the nation's motorway capacity.

From a survey of 15,000 cars in July, foundation estimated middle lane hogs and outside lane-blockers wasted up to one third of motorway capacity.

Police have the power to pull over motorists for poor lane discipline and can prosecute if they consider a driver's behaviour amounts to inconsiderate driving.

But with an 11% decrease in traffic police in England and Wales since 1997 and a lack of visible police presence on the motorways, many motorists are left to get away with their selfish lane-hogging behaviour, the foundation said.

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