War on middle-lane hogs – just get on with it

By DAVID WOODING

With a fanfare of horns, ministers announced a crackdown on selfish motorway drivers who hog the middle lane and don’t move over for faster cars. 

They’ll be fined £100 and have three penality points slapped on their licence under new rules being drawn up by Transport Minister Stephen Hammond.

A great eye-catching idea to get Britain moving, you may think. But forgive me for wondering if, like so many well-received initiatives, this will never happen.

Labour came up with the same popular idea years ago – and it died a death on the hard shoulder of policy-making.

Back in June 2005, then roads minister David Jamieson announced he was determined to halt the selfish practice which causes congestion, accidents and road rage.

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He also asked the Highways Agency to explore the possibility of using the variable message signs on motorways to encourage middle lane hogs to move over.

Police already have power to stop motorists for poor lane discipline and have the power to prosecute if they consider a driver’s behaviour amounts to inconsiderate driving.

The Highway Code states: ‘You should drive in the left-hand lane if the road ahead is clear.”

The habit of hogging the middle lane on motorways, regardless of conditions, was labelled as one of the top ten menaces on the road in an RAC report.

So, full marks to Mr Hammond for taking up this issue. But get your foot down, sir, and please don’t pull off at the next exit.

And forgive me if I don’t hold my breath.

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L-test interpreters to be banned

By DAVID WOODING

IMMIGRANTS will be banned from taking driving tests in foreign languages in a bid to wipe out cheating.
Nearly 900 have had their licences revoked after being told what to do by rogue translators.
Ministers fear there are many more and will ditch rules which let learners sit the theory test in any of 21 languages.
They are also concerned about handing licences to thousands of people who can’t speak English or read road signs.
Drivers can get translation into a range of languages, including Polish, Punjabi, Arabic, Tamil, Urdu, Mirpuri and Albanian.
By contrast, motorists in France can take their test in only one language – French.

Rogue

About 675 learners A WEEK take the the British test with an interpreter in the back seat.
A further 2,100 use them or rely on specially-made voiceovers for their theory exam.
The free service, introduced by Labour, costs taxpayers £250,000 – plus £10,000 for every “cheat” inquiry.
But ministers are to ditch it after nine rogue interpreters were struck off in the past two years.
They were caught coaching drivers during their test or even giving them the answers in the theory.
Dozens more are under investigation for a scam which is feared to be widespread.
Road safety minister Stephen Hammond wants to ban interpreters from all sections of the driving test.
He fears too many learners are being given a licence before they are fit to get behind the wheel alone.
It would also help immigrants to integrate more by ensuring they learned English.
L_plates3Mr Hammond said: “This isn’t about saving money, it’s about cutting out fraud and making our roads safer.
“We have seen too many interpreters helping people pass their test when they are clearly not up to it.
“It’s also common sense to expect people to understand road signs if they are going to drive on our roads.”
Manchester City star Carlos Tevez got a six-month driving ban last week after a court heard he did not understand the word “constabulary” meant “police”.
Mr Hammond will launch a consultation this month about banning all voiceovers and interpreters on theory and practical tests.

ENDS