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Saturday 24 August 2019

Why motorway lane hoggers are putting us all at the mercy of the 'undertakers'

Motorway traffic
Motorway traffic
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

A few weeks back I was heavily criticised by some for complaining about being bullied while driving at 90kmh on the inside lane of a motorway.

I had been flashed at (headlights), beeped at, given the two fingers and almost side-swiped by some.

This week I'd like to raise another prevalent abuse on our roads. I am beyond exasperation over the number of drivers who toddle along at 80-90kmh on the outside lane.

I'm almost apologetic for bringing this up - I tend to do so three or four times a year - but my recent experiences suggest there is a genuine lack of knowledge (or care?) among lots of drivers. The outside lane is, technically, only for overtaking. In heavy, heaving traffic all lanes are, understandably, used.

The problem arises where cars can safely drive at 100kmh or more, except where their progress is impeded by those doggedly clinging to their route at 70kmh/80kmh.

Irritation builds to frustration for those behind and impatience overcomes caution. The following sort of scenario can unfold.

A car, often two, tips along slowly, oblivious to all, in the outside lane of a two-lane road. The knock-on effects grow acute when traffic on the inside lane is travelling at much the same speed as the outside. Quickly, there is a build-up of vehicles in both lanes.

Then the beeping, flashing lights and serious tailgating begin. The total lack of recognition or reaction from the outside-lane hoggers further heighten tensions.

Some make it worse by replying in kind to the aggression aimed at them as if insisting they are perfectly entitled to be where they are.

If the stand-off persists for even a short time, inevitably one of those being held back starts pushing harder. They flick from half-outside to half-inside, hoping to force an opening. If they spot one on the inside they dive in and undertake those on the outside.

Others follow, trying to get in and back out before the gap closes. It is so dangerous in such tiny confines.

At this stage I've seen some of those on the outside become quite disorientated at the sight of cars suddenly appearing from their left.

They wobble or half swing into the inside lane, sometimes without checking their mirror. I've seen other cars having to brake sharply to avoid a collision. And I've seen near misses where the last of the undertakers nearly hit those panicking on the outside lane.

It can be a dangerous mess and all because people don't know, or realise, that hogging the outside lane poses a high risk.

The worrying thing is that lane hogging is as prevalent now as it was five or 10 years ago. I believe it is a mixture of ignorance and selfishness. I also believe it is one of the major causes of road rage.

Where you have rage in any shape or form on a road you have the heightened risk of an accident.

It is the sort of carry-on that warrants a proper campaign. One that needs to involve gardai warning people - out on the road.

I think that would be more in the interests of safety than shooting fish in a barrel (speed trap) in a 60kmh zone at the UCD underpass on a road that is clogged with traffic most of the time. It would be, I think, a far better undertaking.

Indo Motoring

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