CJ Skeats (Motor Sport, July 1988) is right to label as morons those drivers who persist in not using the left hand lane of three-and two-lane motorways when it is clear and free for use.
I use a combination of the M53, M56 and M62 to commute to and from work, travelling some 115 miles per day. There has bee many a morning when I have been in the left-hand lane of one of those motorways at a speed of 70-75 mph with the nearest vehicle (usually an HGV) some 100-500 metres ahead, and come across a stream of ten or more cars in the overtaking lane (that is, the right-hand lane) no more than two or three car-lengths apart.
I am able to overtake the HGV because the fast lane (that is, the centre lane of a three-lane motorway) is clear of vehicles. But in doing so I find myself travelling ten or so mph faster than the cars on my right! Not an ideal situation, but one which I am sure Motor Sport readers have noticed in one form or another.
I refuse to accept that drivers in these poorly-separated convoys honestly believe they would be able to stop safely if forced to do so. The “flight or fight” condition caused by high adrenaline levels is root cause of this form of “motorway madness”. Such drivers are not in full conscious control as they are compelled, lemming-like, to take part in these streams of cars seemingly locked into the right-hand lanes of UK motorways.
Not even jet pilots with the RAF have the sort of reactions needed in such situations, and one of the criteria for their selection is reflexes of the highest order.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not from the school of thought that constantly bleats “speed kills”. However, I do believe that driving cars in long streams at less than three car-lengths apart at speeds as low as 55 mph in motorway overtaking lanes will, when accidents do occur, contribute significantly to the idea that speed does indeed kill in the minds of civil servants and their elected masters who are responsible for motor transport.
Effective car separation, lane discipline, neatness and timely signalling are the secrets of safe, fast motorway driving. Constant observation is axiomatic, of course. I once overheard a driver at an M6 service station say: “I do like motorway driving. I can relax and switch off, unlike being on A-roads”. Perhaps the existence of such drivers indicates that the general standard of driving in the UK is too low, and that, 30 years after the Preston by-pass was opened as part of the M6, motorway driving should be a major part of the UK driving examination.
MJ Crawford, Oxton, Merseyside