By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Slow driving leads to obvious dangers
Placeholder Image
Little publicity is devoted to the dangers caused by motorists who drive too slowly for conditions and when the posted speed limits are otherwise safe. Many collisions involving major or fatal injuries feature an "uninvolved" motorist who was driving too slowly.

For example, if a motorist drives 40 mph on a two-lane highway with a 55 mph posted speed limit, many drivers will grow frustrated and begin to pass it in the opposite lane. This is not to say that risk-taking motorists who choose to overtake the slow driver in the opposite lane are free of responsibility. They, in fact, are the ones who legally end up with full responsibility for any collision. However, slow drivers are frequently involved in that their actions lead to frustration that arises out of following a motorist who is driving substantially below the safe or posted speed limit.

Another common collision that occurs due to slow drivers is when a motorist occupies the fast lane, and drives below the speed limit when slower driving is not otherwise justified by attendant conditions. This causes an almost continuous stream of motorists stacking up behind the slow vehicle, passing it and then returning to the fast lane. This may not seem like a big problem, but the traffic conditions are safest when all traffic moves at a uniform speed, in effect, as one unit. Anyone deviating from this causes changes in traffic flow, incites driver frustration, causes unexpected slow downs and lane changes, and, all too often, results in road rage. The moment driving activities include any measure of emotion, the traffic danger quotient increases.

It is always a mistake to criticize those who drive the speed limit, while questioning what their hurry is. The traffic flow generally reflects what is safe and acceptable, but not always. The basic speed law is what overrides all, as does the maximum speed law, which sets top speeds not on what is necessarily "safe," but the speed that has been legislatively determined to be the fastest non-emergency vehicles can travel regardless of roadway conditions. Safe roadway travel is an effort of teamwork, cooperation, concentration and taking into account the "big picture." All too often, motorists who are driving too slowly are doing so because they are distracted by talking on the phone, playing with devices, applying make-up, daydreaming, or making eye contact with their passengers while talking.

It may seem counter-intuitive to assert that "slow driving" may, indeed, be unsafe. The slower one drives, the more time there is to react to unanticipated events and hazards. But when this slow driving occurs where higher speeds are safe and expected by way of the posted speed limit, it quickly becomes the basis for traffic slowdowns, delays, obstructions, risk-taking by other motorists, anger and overall incongruous traffic flow. It is important to become part of the overall traffic scene - driving neither too slow nor too fast for conditions. In recognition of the dangers of driving too slowly, the law provides for the following citable offense in the California Vehicle Code, Section 22400(a), which states: "No person shall drive upon a highway at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, unless the reduced speed is necessary for safe operation, because of a grade, or in compliance with law."

Clearly, driving too fast creates obvious dangers, but it is the not-so-obvious consequences of driving too slowly and its interference with the flow of traffic that requires more attention from the motoring public.