The Middle Lane Motorway Conundrum

Thu 25th Apr 2019

When two cars want to move into the central lane of traffic on a motorway, who has right of way and who would be responsible for any accident caused?

It’s a question which may have had many UK drivers scratching their heads, and as it is not a problem we might encounter on any driving lesson or test, due to a lack of experience of driving on motorways. But now traffic regulators down under may have raised a serious question.

The Queensland Department of Roads and Traffic have introduced the question to a quiz for drivers in Australia and it has been the subject of much debate and conjecture. The problem is the same in the UK as in Australia and though there is a line in the Highway Code, it is still unclear, stating drivers need to ensure ‘the lane you will be joining is sufficiently clear ahead and behind.”

It can be a grey area and even the DVSA advises drivers to only join a lane that is suffeciently clear ahead and behind. But experienced motorway drivers will have often had the conundrum of pulling into the lane at the same time as a another driver across the three lanes.

Speaking in The Sun Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, said: “In my view it would up to the police to decide, based on the available evidence, but unless one driver was being extremely aggressive, charges would be unlikely to follow.

“If other drivers had seen one of the cars weaving in and out of the traffic aggressively before the collision then that might change things so it’s always worth trying to get hold of dash cam footage and witnesses.

“Insurance companies would probably take a knock for knock approach if they were convinced both drivers moved into each other’s blind spots and they both showed an equal lack of observation and care.”