Daily Telegraph - Monday 10 April, 2006

Fast lane hogs

RIGHT lane hogs -- among the greatest frustrations and dangers on Sydney's congested roads -- are escaping the law, figures show.

As many motorists get fined for speeding every 24 hours as right lane hogs get fined in a year.

Just 1208 motorists in 2005 were fined for driving for long periods, usually slowly, in the fast lane -- despite the frustration and road safety hazards posed.

The NRMA last night responded to the figures with a call for many of the additional 750 police recruits promised last month to bolster depleted highway patrol ranks.

NRMA president Alan Evans said: "We want to see a fair swag of them on highway patrol."

The figures for right lane hogs cover the two offences of "disobeying keep left unless overtaking sign" and "drive in right lane on road at speed over 80km/h".

The number of fines for these two offences are negligible compared with the

403,047 fines issued by fixed speed cameras in 2004-05.

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information revealing the enforcement drought are yet another embarrassment for Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal.

A year ago his predecessor Michael Costa committed to a crackdown on right lane hogs, even promising "extra resources".

But fines issued fell from 708 in the first half of 2005 to 500 in the second half after Mr Costa made the promise. The breakdown for Sydney's motorways show how little the fines are enforced.

On the F6 between Sydney and Wollongong, 27 fines were issued in 2005, none were issued in November last year and January this year. On the F3 between Sydney, the Central Coast and Newcastle, just 130 fines were issued last year.

On the M5, where motorists pay $3.30 on the promise of a fast run, only 39 fines were issued last year.

* DRIVERS are taking more risks on the state's roads, causing a rising number of accidents and deaths, a medical body has found.

"People with injuries admit they're pushing the envelope more, such as going through red lights" Royal Australasian College of Surgeons trauma committee chairman Danny Cass said.

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