Driving on the motorway can be pretty daunting for learner drivers and those who’ve just passed their driving test. There’s a lot going on. Traffic is faster. And if you’re coming to it with very little experience, it’s often a bit frightening. So, it’s probably natural to want to gravitate towards the middle lane and sit there. It means that you’re always going at a decent speed, but that you don’t have to worry about navigating that scary weaving between lanes. It’s a good plan, hey?

Well, it would be, if it wasn’t illegal, and a major cause of congestion and frustration. So, before you head out onto the motorway, here’s what you need to know about driving in the middle lane.

Everything New Drivers Need to Know About Driving in the Middle Lane

What are the rules for driving in the middle lane?

The Highway Code, rule 264, states that drivers should ‘keep in the left lane unless overtaking. If you are overtaking, you should return to the left lane when it is safe to do so.’ Which is fairly conclusive guidance as to the use of the middle lane.

While there are some times when you may genuinely need to drive in the middle lane, such as overtaking a long line of traffic or if you’re preparing to merge, it’s a good idea to keep to the left wherever possible.

Are there penalties if you drive in the middle lane unnecessarily?

Driving in the middle lane – AKA middle lane hogging – is classified as ‘careless driving’. This means that if you are caught driving in the middle lane unnecessarily, police may issue you with an on-the-spot-fine of £100 and three penalty points on your licence.

How long is too long when driving in the middle lane?

There are many good reasons for driving in the middle lane. You may be overtaking. You might move across to give room to another vehicle pulled onto the hard shoulder. If there are signs telling you to ‘keep in lane’, it’s important that you stay put. And if there are vehicles joining the motorway from a slip road, of course moving to the middle lane isn’t just polite, but sensible. And there will be times when you simply can’t move across. And any of these things can take time. As long as there is a genuine reason for you to be there, driving in the middle lane is absolutely fine. It’s only when you continue in the middle lane unnecessarily that you will encounter problems,

What should you do if someone else is hogging the middle lane?

So, we’ve already mentioned that middle lane hogging is a major cause of frustration amongst drivers, often leading to road rage. So, how should you deal with it? The main thing is to stay calm. Most of the time, if people seem to be blocking the middle lane, they’re not doing it on purpose. And we all make mistakes. If you need to overtake, use the lane to the right when you can. But the main thing to remember is that you need to keep your cool. Otherwise, you can turn a bad situation into a dangerous one.

If the driver seems to be causing a legitimate hazard, risking other drivers, then it’s a good idea to notify the police when it is safe to do so. But you should only ever consider this if a driver’s behaviour is presenting a genuine danger. The police have enough to do!

You’ve got a lot to think about when motorway driving. Positioning your vehicle is really the simplest of your concerns. Keep left when you can and use the other lanes sparingly. That way, you can’t go far wrong.

If you are looking for motorway driving lessons in Birmingham and the Black Country, get in touch with DGN.