Recent legislation now means that a driver can be dealt with for the offence of driving without due care and attention by means of a fixed penalty notice. Until the change in legislation a driver could only be reported for summons and a court file submitted. The addition of a fixed penalty option has been introduced to make prosecution quicker and simpler.
Perhaps it would be wise to briefly cover the offence and maybe revisit this paragraph on the future examples I will provide. Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 states “If a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, they are guilty of an offence.” So far, so good. It is an objective test. It must be apparent that the standard of driving fell below that of a reasonable and competent driver. Another important element to complete the offence is that it must be proved that another road user must actually be inconvenienced by the manner of driving. It is not enough to show a potential for inconvenience.
It should be noted that the fixed penalty option couldn’t be used for injury road traffic collisions. It is intended for non-injury collisions and other matters where due care can be proved. As with a lot of traffic offences now, there is a diversionary course that a driver can undertake to avoid the penalty points.
Interestingly the press, perhaps with some prompts, heralded this as the solution to those most annoying of drivers, the lane two hoggers.
We have all been there. A driver stuck in lane two at a steady 70 mph. But lets have a think about it for a moment. The Highway Code describes lane three as the overtaking lane; never has it been described as the fast lane. Slow drivers in lane two no doubt hold up the traffic. Undertaking is illegal in English law unless there is slow moving, heavily congested traffic. It effectively reduces a three-lane carriageway into two lanes.
So if a driver is in lane two at the legal speed limit and your getting frustrated at your progress then do you not have to break the law in that you will have to exceed the speed limit to overtake?
A driver at night on an empty motorway with no other vehicles to affect is stuck in lane two at the legal road speed because their driving instructor told them it was the safest place to be in the case of a blow out. Are they guilty of driving without due care and attention? Perhaps this is a good time to re read the legislation?
So you see it’s not as clear-cut as you would think. There are clear cases though. A driver holding lane two at less than the legal road speed of the other vehicles around it causing congestion. A white Mercedes Sprinter van holding its own in lane three whilst there is a police vehicle behind on a blue light run trying to make progress, I’ve been there. A clear fail to give way supported by independent witness’s causing a non-injury road traffic collision. These are the circumstances I would consider a traffic Offence report.
As to the lane two hoggers. I wouldn’t feel happy taking a driver to court unless I have video that could show longevity, inconvenience and speed or lack of. What on the surface seems a relatively simple offence to prove I hope I have shown is far from simple.
As for me a quick flash of the head lights or if that fails a quick blip of forward blues usually does the trick.