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Date: 11 April 2014

Today's Topic: Motorway Driving Standards are Atrocious

Triggers: Driving to and fro on holiday this Easter

My Grump: UK motorways are excellent, ruined by the idiots driving on them.

We just got back from an Easter break down at Harlyn Bay in Cornwall, which required the rather lengthy drive along the M5. I am a regular motorway driver and love the relative openness of the motorway system in which everybody is driving in the same direction, all at speeds relative to one another. I'm not one that finds motorways boring, and it's nice to let the old girl spin her wheels now and again.

The art of driving is all about reading the road ahead and making adjustments for what you will encounter in a few seconds time, or even a minute ahead if you can see that far into the distance. The A30 is a bit like that. Miles and miles of undulating countryside, in which you can see the traffic flow for miles ahead, all wrapped up in the most beautiful scenery you will ever see in this wonderful country of ours. Sorry, I digress.

You'll probably think that this little rant is going to be about speeding on motorways, hogging the middle lane, or the other common offence of driving too close to the car in front (tailgating). But that's not my main grump. All of these things are dangerous, and simply madness when any of them are combined. Driving too close, too fast, for instance should be an instant ban in my view.

However, my main grump is the fact that people who don't look ahead catch up to a slower car, then look to pull over to overtake, still doing the slower speed, but moving into a faster lane of traffic. Most don't make any consideration for the traffic overtaking them, who then have to brake, or move into the outside lane, at which point, the outside lane is braking because there was no time to speed up to the speed of the outside lane.

This just drives me mad, because whilst all the other idiotic things we've mentioned are indeed dangerous, they are not as dangerous as braking at 70mph in the outside lane. Before you know it a mile or two of traffic has their brake lights on. No one knows whether this is just speed correction, or stopping, and so all the drivers affected brake at different rates. Therein lies the danger of a massive motorway pile-up.
Motorway Traffic
Common sense tells you that as you are approaching slower traffic, this does not automatically mean you are doing the speed of the next lane. In all likelihood, you are still slower than them.

IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ADJUST YOUR SPEED TO THAT OF THE OUTER LANE and then move over into a suitable gap. It is NOT your right to just move across and cause everyone else to brake and slow to your speed. Wally!

Time and time again this happened on the journey down, but I ignored it and didn't mention it in conversation. The only thing you can do is drive defensively and make sure that when it all goes pear-shaped, you're not in the middle of it. But on the journey back I mentioned my observations to my wife, and even predicted which car, or other vehicle, would do it and when. You can see if another driver is paying attention or not by the potential trouble they get in; getting stuck in a lane, lane hogging, or swerving from one lane to another to avoid an accident.

It is really difficult to know what to do about it. Using the motorway camera network to send warning letters to drivers who flout the rules wouldn't really work, except for speeding.

Cameras can't follow a driver hogging the middle lane for 10 miles at a time, nor can it prove close proximity driving over extended distances. So policing in any meaningful way is unlikely. This leaves education and perhaps regular testing.

According to a survey on Confused.com, these were the most irritating driving habits on motorways:

1. Lane-hogging/middle lane slow driving
2. Tailgating
3. Changing lanes without indicating
4. Erratic or unnecessary braking
5. Talking on a mobile phone without hands-free
6. Cutting across lanes because of lack of preparation for junction
7. Drivers not letting you join the motorway from the slip road
8. Rubbernecking - slowing down when there is an accident
9. Undertaking
10. Vehicles weaving in and out of slow-moving traffic

Do you have any views about this? Please share them below, thank you.



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