RAT running is a constant driving complaint among residents in many UK towns – but what is it?
Yet homeowners and pedestrians in certain suburbs have complained about drivers “rat running” through their quiet streets.
Here’s what you need to know about the controversial practice.
What is rat running?
Rat running is when drivers use quieter side streets rather than main roads to get from A to B.
It sounds harmless, but has been blamed for clogging up sleepy residential suburbs at rush hour – and leaving main roads designed for lots of traffic under-used.
Common reasons that drivers will rat run include to avoid queues at traffic lights or toll booths, or to get away from roads they expect to be busy.
Is rat running illegal?
The short answer is no, rat running is not illegal.
You can’t be fined or prosecuted for the choices you make to get to your destination.
But you can’t drive all the way through roads marked “access only” – and could face a fine if you’re caught.
And if you deliberately make a loud noise with your engine near houses early in the morning, you can be fined for noise pollution.
Will it speed up my journey?
Surprisingly, rat running is not a guaranteed way to quicken your rush hour journey.
In fact, it’s more likely to slow you down.
TomTom spokesman Julien Speed said: “Drivers using rat runs may actually be making their journeys slower.”
Its data shows that local roads have twice as many driver have lost travel time using a rat run (32%) than those who stuck to main roads (15%).
He said: “Many motorists are very proud to tell others about their secret rat-run that helps them avoid the worst of the rush-hour gridlock.
“But the reality is that it probably takes them longer.”
We heard from a Port Talbot man who lives right below a busy motorway but said it’s “lovely” and he’d never leave.
Drivers should also keep an ear out for “noise cameras” which can lead to a £1,000 fine if your vehicle is too loud.
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