Fleet News

Guest opinion: Traffic chaos? Silver car man is to blame

WHITE van man has to put up with a fair amount of stick from the general public in this country. But no-one seems to go on about the menace of silver car man, do they? When it comes to light commercial vehicles, you’d think drivers of these monsters were the devil incarnate to read some of our national papers.

But from my recent experience, it is the average British car driver who should be berated.

I have spent a lot of time plying the motorways of this country in recent weeks – mainly the M6, M42 and M5 – and during my hours of cruising in the traffic I have been making a mental study of the varying driving styles of our country’s motorists. And the most obvious thing I’ve noticed is the appalling manners of many of the car drivers who use these roads.

While 99% of van drivers seem to fall in the ‘fast yet safe’ category, simply using motorways as professionals aiming to get from A to B in the shortest possible time, many car drivers are rude, arrogant and dangerous in their overtaking habits.

And as the majority of these vehicles are dirty 53 and 54-platers, I suspect that most are being driven by company drivers.

What this adds up to is a lot of unnecessary hold-ups on motorways. Many jams are caused by car drivers hogging the middle lane instead of overtaking and then pulling back into the first lane, seemingly unaware of the chaos being caused behind them.

This lane-hogging leads to the faster drivers behind jostling to get into the third lane and then being reluctant to give up their spaces on the outside.

This usually results in a lot of cussing and swearing, not to mention undertaking by some mad fools who think nothing of speeding up lane one at 110mph and then cutting back in. I’ve seen it happen several times.

Looking at the wider picture, we find that the more traffic jams there are, the more the transport industry calls for extra roads to be built. And when more roads are built, there is inevitably an adverse impact on the environment.

And all this because silver car man hogs the middle lane.

Most people just shrug and lament that there is very little anyone can do to change the mindset of the average British motorist, but I would have to disagree. I can think of two very simple moves that would help enormously.

Firstly, a law could be passed making it an offence to use the middle and outside lanes of motorways for anything other than overtaking.

Then the lane-hoggers would be left in no doubt that when they sit merrily in the middle lane for mile upon mile for no apparent reason, they are in fact breaking the law and could be fined and have penalty points added to their licences.

Alternatively, we could adopt the American method of Freeway driving, in which motorists can use any lane that happens to be spare. It might sound crazy and dangerous but having lived and driven in California for nine months, I know that it does actually work.

But whatever happens I believe the situation is so bad that doing nothing is not an option. Britain’s motorway system is grinding to a halt – and the problem could largely be solved by the passing of a simple law.

So what are we waiting for?

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