Middle-lane drivers are responsible for more than half of ‘lane drifts’ committed by British motorists, new research has discovered.

Analysis of more than 70 hours of motorway footage found that one in every nine vehicles on the road (11 percent) drifts out of its lane - an action that could see motorists prosecuted for dangerous driving.

However, the research, which was commissioned by insurance company Direct Line, also found that more than half (53 percent) of drivers who drift away from their lanes do so while travelling in the middle lane.

Often, this is triggered by lorries passing alongside and drivers overcompensating for their presence, which leads to a domino effect across the width of the motorway.

As well as analysing footage, Direct Line also surveyed more than 2,000 drivers and found that more than half have witnessed another motorist drifting into their lane while on a motorway or dual carriageway, while one-third of those quizzed (33 percent) said they had drifted out of lane or touched a rumble strip on a motorway.

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According to Direct Line, the study highlights the dangers of lane drifting, with an estimated 1.5 million drivers needing to swerve off the road to avoid other drivers’ poor lane discipline and more than 12 million needing to hit the brakes to avoid someone drifting out of their lane.

Rob Miles, Direct Line’s director of car insurance said the research showed the importance of driver assistance technology such as lane departure warning.

‘This research highlights the benefit of Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning systems and we would strongly recommend that those in the market for a new car consider a model with this technology,’ he said. ‘It could be the difference between having an accident or avoiding one. That said, we urge motorists to remain vigilant at all times, and not to rely solely upon car technology to ensure their safety and that of other road users.

‘Failing to stay in your lane, even just for a split second, has the potential to cause a fatal accident when travelling at high speeds on a motorway,’ he said. ‘If drivers feel tired or are struggling to maintain their focus then they should find a safe place to pull over and take a break.’