Law on stubborn mid-lane driving is a dead letter
The law on stubborn mid-lane or left-lane driving recently adopted and from July 1st to be fined at 113 euros instead of 58 euros, is still a dead letter. Sloppy in its phrasing, the law makes it very difficult to control with camera images. For the road police, enforcing it is one of the lowest priorities due to a lack of workforce.
It remains one of the most irritating behaviors from other drivers on the road, most car users indicate in surveys all the time. The Belgian highway road code stipulates that you always have to drive as close to the right border of the road as possible. After overtaking another vehicle on the left, you should merge into the right lane ‘as soon as possible safely.’ But when exactly is this?
Subject to interpretation
It’s a subject to interpretation by a police officer, although it is now considered as a ‘severe’ infringement of the second degree, at the same level as overtaking by the right. It will cost you 113 euros. That is if you will ever get caught.
And the law is even more blurred when there was no overtaking at all, but one stubbornly keeps on driving on the mid- or left-lane when there is no traffic on the right lane. That infringement is only fined with 58 euros.
Although authorized to be controlled by cameras, it is technically still unfeasible today. “Because this infringement happens on a longer distance, you can’t always use the cameras on the highway as they tend to give a momentary image and several factors have to be taken into account,” Jana Verdegem from the Federal Police says. “But we’re fine-tuning the technology, and it will be possible soon.”
In the meantime, it remains a task for the highway police. But for them “it is one of the lowest priorities,” Alain Verstrepen from the Antwerp road police squad says. “Last night, we had to pick up thirteen illegal persons and this morning another six. And we’re driving from one accident to another. Occasionally we have a quiet shift, and then we can book offenders.”
Last year, a total of 2.831 offenses on mid-lane driving were charged in Belgium, some eight per day. But according to Alain Verstrepen, there is not enough workforce to do more as in Antwerp for instance only 50% of the foreseen personnel are hired too far.