To raise awareness of the problems caused by motorway drivers who hog the middle lane, the Highways Agency has launched a DVD, presented by John Stapleton, called ‘Stay Safe, Keep Moving.’ Drivers should keep to the left hand lane if the road ahead is clear. If you are overtaking, return to the left-hand lane once you have overtaken all the vehicles or if you are delaying traffic behind you.

John Stapleton went on patrol with Highways Agency traffic officers to see the problem close up.

John Stapleton said: "I was out with the traffic officers and saw lines of cars in the middle lane, five, six, seven vehicles only using one lane of a major motorway. This type of driving holds other vehicles up, causing congestion, and also has safety risks. Middle lane driving encourages tailgating, dangerous in itself, and encourages people to make other unsafe manoeuvres such as undertaking."

"Drivers should be using the left hand lane. If you see a long line of traffic behind you when you are in the middle lane, make sure it’s not you that is causing the queue."

Stuart Lovatt, safety action plan co-ordinator at the Highways Agency, said: "The Highways Agency operates 4,800 miles of motorway and trunk road. Middle lane driving and lane hogging means that during peak times some of this is not fully used, leading to congestion.

"The centre and outer lane are for overtaking. Everyone should be using the left hand lane when it is free, making best use of the full road and reducing congestion."

The new DVD is backed by the AA and the RAC Foundation and was produced by the Highways Agency as part of its commitment to improving road safety and journey reliability.

"Some lane hogging is more down to inattention than obstinacy, " says Andrew Howard, Head of Road Safety for the AA.

"Not everyone has a dogged determination to stay in the middle lane at all costs. Some drivers just find themselves in the middle lane and realise they shouldn’t be. "Am I in the right lane?" is a question that all motorway drivers should ask themselves regularly."

Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation, commented: "The middle-lane hog and outside lane blocker are selfish drivers who waste hundreds of miles of motorway. It can take ten years to build an extra motorway lane, but we could, in effect, add hundreds of miles overnight if motorists improved their lane discipline.

"Poor lane discipline wastes the scarce resource of road capacity, encourages road rage and leads to dangerous tailgating. In the late 50’s and early 60’s "courtesy cops" advised drivers how to use the lanes on the new dual carriageways and motorways. We need to practise more courtesy on the motorways today, in order not to hold up those in a greater hurry than ourselves."