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July 04, 2010

New Challenge for the Middle Lane Driver, 4 lanes!

M1 j25 to j28The drive up to see my son in Sheffield has become a lot better. The roadworks and 15 miles of average-speed-check camera enforced 50 mph speed limit are finished. What was interesting was to see the behaviour of drivers to the new lane that came on as a continuation of the slip road on the left.

The ‘inside lane’ and ‘overtaking lane’ of 2-lane carriageways became ‘slow lane’ & ‘fast lane’ in common use. The official two overtaking lanes in the three-lane-motorways became slow, middle and fast and many drivers believe they belong naturally in one or the other. For nearly 10 miles of the new widened M1 the slow lane traffic moved 1 left, the fast lane traffic stayed far right and the middle lane drivers stayed in the 3rd lane leaving lane 2 almost deserted. The ‘middle lane drivers’ did seem very uneasy but took many miles to decide where they belonged.

Perhaps, in the UK, we should widen motorways all the way to 5 lanes so these drivers can know where the middle lane is again?

Seriously, since these four-lane sections are mostly equipped with full gantry variable speed limits, lane management and live-monitored cameras we should consider moving to the US style system where vehicles can overtake in any lane, or have different speed limits for each lane.

What should I have done that day when approaching the slowing clump of ‘fast lane’ drivers in lane 4 travelling in the inside lane without a single car in between lanes 2 or 3? Go out and join in the queue to politely overtake the single caravan half a mile ahead?

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