Caught on camera: Lone motorist drives his sports car down Britain's first car-sharing motorway lane just hours after it opened


Last updated at 23:48 20 March 2008

Britain's first motorway car-sharing lane opened yesterday ... only to be promptly abused by lone drivers.

As vehicles crawled along in congestion, frustrated motorists broke ranks to sail along the free-flowing passenger-only lane linking the M606 and M62.

Some may have been unaware they were flouting the law, but others were clearly happy to risk a possible £60 fine and three penalty points.

Scroll down for more...

Caught on camera: The first driver to be caught using the new car-share lane designed for two or more drivers. He was alone in his car

One bystander said: "I was there for 90 minutes and I saw at least 15 or 20 vehicles using it illegally.

"The traffic was at a standstill and most were just pulling out in frustration."

Another said: "There was a lot of congestion in the normal lanes but the passenger-only lane was hardly being used.

"If it continues like this it will not be the most efficient use of the space."

The 1.7-mile lane was built by the Highways Agency at a cost of £ 5.3million.

Scroll down for more...

Breaking the law: The driver of this vehicle could now face a £30 penalty for driving in the car-share lane without any passengers

car sharing

The motorist ignores the sign which specifies vehicles need to have at least two passengers

Linking the southbound M606 near Bradford to the eastbound M62 towards Leeds it is open to cars, vans and taxis with two or more occupants.

Minibuses, coaches, buses and motorcyclists can use the lane whether or not they are carrying passengers.

It will be monitored by West Yorkshire traffic police, although the Deparment for Transport yesterday said it was considering bringing in cameras that could trap thousands of motorists.

Anyone trying to get around the system by putting inflatable dolls in passenger seats could be caught by infrared "skin-counting" cameras that detect the number of vehicle occupants and send tickets to offenders.

The lane is meant to save around seven minutes per journey and is expected to be followed by similar schemes on up to 500 miles of motorway across the country.

Scroll down for more...

Gridlock: The new car-share scheme has been introduced to help ease motorway congestion

car sharing

Traffic crawls along while the lone driver speeds ahead in the car sharing lane

However, there were safety fears yesterday as there is no hard shoulder on the route.

Instead, vehicles in difficulty will have to make their way to three lay-bys.

Critics also argue that while the Government is billing the car-sharing lane as the best way to cut journey times and reduce carbon emissions, it could actually

achieve the opposite.

Brian Gregory, chairman of the Association of British Drivers, said: "It will only add to delays, which increases emissions from stationary cars.

"People can't magic someone else to come with them on journeys".

"The Government should be investing more of the £50billion they take from road users each year by increasing road capacity."

AA president Edmund King said the short stretch was unlikely to tempt many potential car-sharers out of the driving seat.

"If after six months the lane is under-used, it should be opened up to all vehicles," he said.

The scheme was opened a fortnight after the Government ditched plans for road tolls following a petition signed by two million drivers.

Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly, who officially opened the route, said: "Currently, four out of five vehicles using this busy junction have only one occupant.

"I hope this new lane will encourage people to share their journeys."

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now