‘Little changes can change everything’

11.28 | 8 March 2024 | | 5 comments

National Highways has launched a new campaign urging lane hoggers and tailgaters to carefully consider their driving habits.

According to a survey, carried out by Ipsos UK on behalf of National Highways, nearly a third (32%) of drivers admit to lane hogging ‘at least occasionally’ while driving on England’s motorways and major A roads. 

Meanwhile, 23% of the 2,500 respondents admitted to tailgating ‘at least occasionally’.

Guy Opperman, roads minister, says both behaviours “are not only irritating but dangerous too”.

The new National Highways campaign carries the slogan ‘little changes, change everything’.

It aims to highlight that lane hogging is among the most likely behaviours to cause motorists and riders to feel frustrated, while tailgating makes them feel anxious, stressed or unsafe.

When thinking about their most recent journey, around a third (34%) of those responding to the survey noticed middle lane hogging, and many of them reported that it made them feel frustrated or angry.   

Meanwhile almost seven in ten (67%) said close following, or tailgating, is a serious problem on these types of roads.

Guy Opperman said: “This Government is on the side of drivers and is listening to their concerns. That’s why this campaign, as part of our Plan for Drivers, aims to tackle middle lane hogging and tailgating, which are not only irritating but dangerous too.”

The campaign will feature on radio and television adverts, podcasts, roadside billboards, posters at motorway service stations, retail parks and petrol stations, and on social media.

Additionally, a campaign toolkit is available to download via the National Highways website.

Sheena Hague, National Highways director of road safety, said: “Bad habits can make driving on our motorways a challenging experience, as those who lane hog or tailgate frustrate other drivers and make them feel unsafe. Both are dangerous and can cause accidents. 

“Our campaign aims to motivate motorists to embrace little changes, which will have an overall positive effect on both them and their fellow road users, reduce congestion and keep traffic flowing. 

“The message is simple – always allow plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front, and unless overtaking, move into the left-hand lane.” 

Lane hogging and tailgating both fall under the offence of careless driving with police officers having the power to hand out on-the-spot fines of £100 and three penalty points.



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    > I am astonished that only 67% of drivers consider that tailgating is a problem

    I do wonder how many of that 67% see “tailgating” as a problem because they’ve only just realised that they’ve had a car behind them for about 8 miles, and since they’ve “suddenly” appeared there, it’s bad.

    (Tailgating is in quotes in that particular paragraph because whilst I share the dislike of driving too close to the vehicle in front, I do suspect the problem is more lack of awareness!)

    David Weston, Newcastle upon Tyne
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Unfortunately, when a figure related to road safety is quoted e.g. 2 second rule or a speed limit, there are those who think that is the ACTUAL distance or ACTUAL speed to travel at, at all times i.e no more, no less. The two-second ‘rule’ is misguided and misundertood anyway and should only really apply at low speeds and even then, it’s an absolute minimum. Similarly, a speed limit is an absolute maximum – not a recommendation!

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

    Spot on David. It’s actually 2 seconds, minimum. Police driving schools (the original schools) used to use 3-4 seconds in following position (i.e. when not planning an overtake). I did an experiment with the cooperation of some National IAM Observers that above 40 mph the 2 second gap goes not work, that is with emergency braking, so below that it is going to be a blue smoke job. But as one former advanced course police driving instructor used to say to his pupils, ‘What ever the conditions could you pull the vehicle up undramatically’. The key word being, ‘undramatically’. Which means if you are in a situation where emergency braking is needed how where you there in the first place. So, as a general rule anything less than two seconds and they are certainly like the next crash waiting to happen. All this resulted in my article, ‘Two seconds and counting’, also illustrating, going back to your point, why many drivers are, even for that reason alone, like the next crash waiting to happen.

    Nigel ALBRIGHT, Taunton
    Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

    I am astonished that only 67% of drivers consider that tailgating is a problem. Despite the HC promoting a 2 second gap, the majority of drivers seem content to follow their peers with a gap much shorter than this. When I use lane 3, or 4, on motorways and attempt to leave a decent gap I am frequently undertaken even though I am driving at the same speed as those ahead of me.

    David Daw, Bury St Edmunds
    Agree (4) | Disagree (0)

    At last the word ‘safety’ is starting to creep into these sorts of campaigns instead of close following just being ‘anti-social’. For safety space and time are probably far more important that the great mantra on ‘speed’ almost on its own. Some 30% of crashes are related to close following and there are those who feel that any driver whose vehicle goes into the back of another should be prosecuted with no mitigating circumstances. If they were keeping far enough back and paying enough attention it would not happen. Besides there is a £100 fine and 3 points for close following but it seems this is seldom, if ever, never acted upon. What a great difference it would make if it were. it would also be the first step in getting drivers to take ownership of their own safety. And if any driver really feel that ADAS and the like are going to save them they in the wrong mindset for starters and well set up for the next crash, in my view.

    I don’t mean to sound militant but pussy footing around with phrases like, ‘Little changes can change everything’ is probably going to have very little if any real impact. It seems there is a perennial fear by those sitting behind desks and making policy decisions of ‘offending the public’, so the softee-softee-catchee-monkey seems to be the general approach. Unless something has a bite to it the general public is mostly not going to take any notice. I am afraid that he bull needs taking firmly by the horns and it made very clear that if you crash into the back of someone else you are to blame, no one else. Therefore, you take the consequences. Period. So, policy makers please, get your pens out and work on a campaign which really is going to get most drivers to sit up and think about what they are doing, or not as the case may be. Otherwise you are just wasting public money.

    Agree (5) | Disagree (2)

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