MIDDLE lane hoggers are being caught out by motorway police but many motorists still do not realise it is an offence.

North West Motorway Police recently highlighted the case of a Ford Focus which had been followed by a patrol car for two miles in the middle lane.

A spokesman added: "There was plenty of opportunities to pull left, causing people to manoeuvre around the vehicle.

"We know it's your pet hate, it's ours too."

After being stopped another motorist told officers 'they always drive in the middle lane'.

Middle lane hogging is classed as 'careless driving' along with going through a red light and tailgating under laws introduced in 2013.

Officers issued the motorists with a TOR (Traffic Offence Report) which could result in a fine and points on their licence.

For many motorists, middle lane hogging is one drivers' most frustrating habits but it can also be dangerous too.

What does the law say?

The Highway Code states: "You should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear.

"If you are overtaking a number of slower-moving vehicles, you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past.

"Slow-moving or speed-restricted vehicles should always remain in the left-hand lane of the carriageway unless overtaking."

Why is it a problem?

The RAC says middle-lane hogging during busy periods can cause congestion as traffic funnels through the outside lane to pass a lane hogger.

A spokesman added: "If the driver in the middle lane moved over, the same traffic could be split over two lanes.

"Many also see staying in the middle lane as selfish, because if someone is correctly following the Highway Code and driving in the inside lane when they catch up with a middle-lane hogger, they then need to move across two lanes to overtake the lane hogger to avoid ‘undertaking’.

"This also means the overtaker has to complete four lane changes in total, instead of two."

Isn’t it safer to sit in the middle lane instead of weaving in and out of traffic?

The RAC adds changing lanes is one of the riskiest manoeuvres carried out on motorways.

A spokesman added: "It’s when you’re most likely to come into conflict with other vehicles – either by missing them in your blind spot, misjudging another car’s speed or moving into a space at the same time as another vehicle.

"It might seem logical, then, to remain in one lane on the motorway rather than ‘weaving’ between lanes when overtaking. It’s true that drivers should avoid excessive weaving.

"Use common sense – if you’ve overtaken a vehicle in lane one and you’re approaching another, you’d normally be right to remain in the middle lane.

"Speed is a factor, though: how long will it take for you to catch up with the next vehicle? And are there vehicles behind you waiting to get past?

"Excessive weaving should definitely be avoided during periods of heavy traffic."

What's the best thing to do if I'm stuck in heavy traffic on the motorway?

The RAC says while it might be tempting to switch lanes if others seem to be moving quicker than you, doing so can cause extra congestion if other drivers have to brake to let you in.

A spokesman added: "If everyone stays in their lanes, congestion will usually ease quicker than if people keep trying to move into the fastest lane. It’s more relaxing for the driver too."