5 Jun 2013

New fines for dreadful drivers - but will they go too far?

"Motorway middle-lane hoggers to face on-the-spot fines" was the story as the BBC told it, and most other sources are saying similar things.  All well and good.  No-one likes idiotic driving.

I'd like to present a different viewpoint.  I don't actually think on the spot fines for middle lane hogging are a good thing.  I've a massive allergy to over-regulation.  Our lives, on and off the road, are governed by too many stupid and ill thought out laws and rules.

OK, some areas that the BBC thinks will be subject to fines (the government hasn't actually said what the new offences will be) are good, but some are questionable.

Here's the list, as predicted by the BBC's Richard Westcott in this article:
  • Driving too close to the vehicle in front
  • Failing to give way at a junction (not requiring evasive action by another driver)
  • Overtaking and pushing into a queue of traffic
  • Being in the wrong lane and pushing into a queue on a roundabout
  • Lane discipline, eg needlessly hogging the middle or outside lanes
  • Inappropriate speed
  • Wheel-spins, handbrake turns and other careless manoeuvres
On the surface these are all fine and dandy.  No-one wants hooliganism on our roads.  But look at some of them a little closer.

Driving too close to the vehicle in front does annoy when you are the car in front.  But sometimes, just sometimes, we creep up to the car in front because they've not had the decency to either move to the middle lane on the motorway or, after mile after mile at 40mph in a 60mph they haven't had the manners to pull over to allow other traffic to pass.  This is standard practice in some countries yet in the UK the sheer vicious stubbornness of some drivers is incomprehensible.  If fines are to be imposed it should be for holding up other traffic.

Pushing into a queue of traffic.  There are two lanes closing into one. Why is the queue on just one carriageway for a mile before it merges.  Both lanes should be filled and traffic merged just prior to the point where two becomes one.  Why waste road space?

Needlessly hogging the middle or outside lanes.  Why support one stupid rule with another stupid rule?  Remove both rules and allow undertaking.  If stupid people want to sit in a lane with emptiness for miles to the left of them then let us normal people undertake them.

Wheel-spins and handbrake turns.  I'm quite happy to openly state that I left a lovely pair of long black lines on the A4 only this morning.  I was turning right from a side road.  I revved the Porsche, dumped the clutch and let that rear end sliiiiiiiiide.  No one was harmed.  I didn't lose control.  Why the feck should I not be allowed to indulge in a bit of harmless fun?

So, before you say these new rules are a good thing have a think.  Do you want to see more or less regulation?