Flaw in new law: one mid-lane driver fined double of the other
The new Belgian traffic law fining a driver with 113 euros, when he stubbornly keeps on driving on the left or middle lane while the lane on the right is free, has a major flaw in it. On a highway with three or more lanes, the driver who keeps on driving several kilometers on the middle lane only pays 58 euros instead of 116 euros. A flaw in the law, says lawyer Céline De Rouck.
The latter is confirmed by the Belgian Traffic Safety Institute, Vias. “The intention of the law is noble, but the authors didn’t take into account every scenario”, spokesman Stef Willems says.
Back to the right
So where does the difference come from? The new enactment that was approved in February by the Parliament and that still has to be published to become active, was meant to tackle the problem of stubborn mid-lane or left-lane drivers as a major infringement, but it only implies while overtaking.
In fact the enactment adds a clause about overtaking by the left, forcing the driver to go back to the right if he isn’t immediately overtaking another car and the right lane is free. If he fails to do this, the driver can be fined 116 euro. So far, so good.
Category 1 infringement
But this clause is not applicable on a driver who is stubbornly driving all the time on the middle lane, while the lane to his right is free. That’s because strictly spoken he isn’t ‘overtaking’ anyone. He’s violating another rule though, stipulating that every driver has to drive as “close as possible to the right edge of the road”. Something that is fined as a minor ‘category 1 infringment’ with 58 euro.
That’s not what the new law was intended for, says Céline De Rouck, a lawyer specialized in traffic right. “It’s meant to deal with all mid-lane drivers, something that is frustrating for the other drivers.”
Number one frustration
Studies showed earlier that this is the number one frustration of Belgian drivers about their fellow-drivers. Vias called upon the politicians and federal Minister of Mobility, François Bellot (MR), to do something about it already in December 2017.
According to MP Tim Vandenput (Open Vld) who was one of the authors of the new law, it still allows the police to fine a mid-lane driver with 116 euros. But they will have to follow the car on the middle lane until it overtakes another car, he admits. He’s willing, though, to something about this flaw in the law after the coming elections, he told newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws.