UK Motorways V Australian Motorways

I have just had the pleasure of driving 3600 kilometres in England and Scotland. It was a real eye opener and being a daily user of the M1 in South East Queensland, I had no choice but to draw comparisons with the way we use our motorways and we didn’t come up smelling too good. I took a Hewlett Packard f210 dash camera with me and set it up in my hire car to video our trip but because of the orderly and respectful way they drive, after 11 days of the camera rolling, there was nothing of note to play back.

We have over a dozen vehicles on the road and I talk from a business point of view when I say our lawmakers/politicians have absolutely no idea. They are so intent on raising revenue from speeding fines that they don’t care about the aggravation and loss of business caused by ignorant drivers sitting in the right lane travelling below the speed limit. It causes chaos and makes other drivers angry to the point where they then do stupid and unforgivable things like road rage.

4 Lane MotorwayHere in South East Queensland we have a great 4 lane motorway but with cars spread out across all 4 lanes, it is useless and no better than the old Pacific Highway it replaced. Some drivers seem to think they OWN the right hand lane and just sit there holding up the traffic. In England that wouldn’t be tolerated and it shouldn’t be tolerated here in Australia.

In the UK, the far left lane is for speed limited articulated trucks (60MPH) and slow vehicles and they don’t move out of that lane unless there is a slower vehicle to pass. Once the pass is made they immediately move back over to the left. The second lane is for buses and vehicles such as cars towing caravans and vehicles travelling faster than the trucks. The third lane is for vehicles travelling at the speed limit and the 4th lane is for anyone wishing to pass and believe me there are no shortage of them.

The beauty of it is that when the do pass they immediately move back over to the left lane, now I ask you, how hard is that? I am not advocating that people shouldn’t use blinkers but very few do in the UK. You know automatically that after they pass you they are moving back over in front of you so it is no surprise.

Now you might say if they are passing vehicles that are travelling at the speed limit they are breaking the law but I personally like the common sense of of former UK Transport Minister Philip Hammond who told the Daily Mail “I take the view that we operate in a democracy of policing by consent. If 50 per cent of the population are routinely breaking the law it’s actually the law that needs looking at”.

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There is already a law in Australia, “keep left unless overtaking”, in Queensland it is completely ignored everyday but it would and could make a difference to traffic flow and I strongly believe it would have an effect on lowering aggression on our roads. How hard would it be to enforce the “keep left unless overtaking” law in this state of Queensland? Not hard at all and it would also raise some more all important revenue until people get the hint. 

In 11 days of driving and 3600 kilometres on English and Scottish roads we didn’t see an accident, no incidents, no anger, no road rage, no aggression, no abuse, very little heavy traffic on the motorways and not one Police Car in pursuit of of a speeding car. The traffic flowed, the motorways did the job they were designed to do and the motorists went about their business in an orderly and respectful way.

There are plenty of speed cameras on the roads but the Police are off doing other things rather than persecuting motorists for passing on a motorway and going about their business. I can only imagine how much easier it would be if we adopted the same principles of giving your fellow motorists room and a fair go and enforcing the “keep left unless overtaking” law like they do, it just works so beautifully and it made driving a real pleasure.

What action do our leaders take in Queensland to help traffic flow and make driving a pleasure? They tighten the speed threshold but won’t tell the public what it is and all in the name of road safety and lowering the road toll but we all know it is another cynical revenue raising exercise.

Surely there must be politicians who have driven on our roads and also on the motorways in the UK or Europe and can see how much better it could be here with very little change or effort?

Maybe I am wrong, they are probably in their chauffeur driven limousines paid for with the very revenue they raise through speeding fines and haven’t noticed the chaos their lack of action causes to business and the public.



  1. I agree with everything that you’ve said except the bit about lanes. The inside or left lane if for all traffic no mater what your speed is, all the other ones are for overtaking unless road markings or signs say other wise.

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