Good news for motorists: discipline and courtesy are on the government’s agenda in its bid to save lives on our roads (and win votes). Road hogs, watch out. It’s a crackdown!
Middle lane hogs, tailgaters and drivers talking on the phone are said to be motorists’ three pet hates, and the government will stop at nothing in its desire to appease pet haters. Rage reduction is a noble health and safety objective, but if it makes us all live longer, what about the knock-on implications for the deficit?
Hogs and gaters are not the end of it. There will be spot fines, and points, for anyone who misuses headlights – what for, I wonder: catching moths? – barges in to a queue, changes lanes after making a mistake at a roundabout, or fails to give way at a junction. What about cyclists? They are a pet hate of at least half the motorists in Britain. Why not fine or at least tax them?
And why stop at inconsiderate motorists?
Many other forms of inconsiderate behaviour are at least as hateful. At my school walking around with your hands in your pockets was a punishable offence, and having your jacket unbuttoned was another, unless you were a prefect. That might be a start, for one of our new police commissioners looking to improve standards and make us all brace up a bit. A loud shirt in a public place, foul or blasphemous language, socks with sandals, fat people in leggings eating sloppy hamburgers on the street, saying prior to instead of before, misuse of disinterested, loud telephone conversations on the underground, politicians not answering the question, BO ….
Do we really need to specify what the police are allowed to fine us for? Why not just send them out with carte blanche to fine inconsiderate people. In no time our country would be a nicer, cleaner and quieter place.
The BBC story on the new fines had more than 2000 comments by lunchtime. Few things excite us more than the subject of other people’s bad driving. Here is an explanation of the problem given on the website.
This looks more like tailgating than middle lane hogging to me, but it might be both. As one twitterato asked this morning, if you tailgate a middle-lane hog, who gets the fine? The cars in the middle lane are overtaking the lorry. Why shouldn’t they? If they left a bigger gap, driver would be able to pull out and overtake too.
Of course these new fines will be completely unenforceable. Is it what they mean by nudge theory or just the usual gesture politics? Talk is cheap.
We have a road etiquette issue on our school run near Abingdon, and it will be interesting to see how the courtesy crackdown affects behaviour in September, if at all. A busy roundabout is followed by about a quarter of a mile of dual carriageway which then funnels down to single carriageway, and causes a jam every morning. Most people queue patiently in the inside lane of the dual carriageway part and get very cross with the selfish bastards who zoom up the outside and push in to the queue as close to the funnel as they can. Drivers in the inside lane cosy up very tight to each other to stop them coming in – tailgating at 5 mph: an offence? – with much shaking of fists, poking of fingers and steaming of windows. Sometimes vigilante truckers crawl along the outside lane in time with the inside lane in order to thwart the queue bargers. No longer: outside lane hogs are lawbreakers too.
I follow the sheep in the inside lane because I am British and don’t want to be disliked for trying to push ahead of people who were there before me. My wife is British too, but uses the outside lane saying: where’s the sense in leaving it empty, when the queue in the inside lane stretches back to the roundabout and blocks that? She is right. But from now on, if she pushes too hard, a policeman in a blue helmet may leap out of the bushes, blow his whistle and demand instant payment of £50. Good luck to him.