Going too slow is an offense


How many times have you been driving down a regular road and found yourself coming up behind a slow-moving driver? It’s one of these frustrating moments, particularly if you’re late for an appointment and it’s difficult to overtake. So many times this situation leads to a dangerous overtaking maneuver. In effect, you risk involving both the slow driver and the oncoming driver in a crash, just so you get past. Now, of course, this can be a driver who just stays within the speed limit and, because you’re in a school zone, it’s a low limit. But it can equally be a senior who now fears to drive fast. So what are the rules of the road in this type of situation?

The majority of states are either stepping up enforcement of existing laws against slow drivers, or the lawmakers are introducing bills to criminalize drivers who go slow without a reasonable excuse. This is mostly aimed at those who plod along in the left lane of a divided highway rather than using it for overtaking. The aim is to produce a situation where drivers at both extremes will pick up points and therefore pay higher car insurance rates, i.e. by speeding or going too slow.

Some states have introduced minimum speed limits on highways and interstates. Others have created an offense to drive at any speed which blocks traffic in the left lane. The intention is to force all drivers to maintain a steady speed and avoids the need for drivers to weave from one lane to another to get round slow moving vehicles. Indeed, states like New Jersey and Florida are trying to reduce all the situations in which drivers may feel frustrated and angry. This adds to the offenses making aggressive driving a crime, e.g. by tailgating. In Georgia, for example, drivers who do not get out of the way of faster moving traffic face fines of up to $1,000. So, assuming there’s no congestion or adverse weather to justify going slow, drivers are going to be punished with a fine, points, and even jail, if they actively inconvenience others.

Of course, the effect of these laws may be to encourage all drivers to speed up. The US Uniform Vehicle Code looks for traffic to flow at the “normal” speed. This is judged by looking at the general road conditions and the speed at which most people are driving. But we then get a slightly different problem. If the normal speed is 65 mph on a 70 mph road, the only way to overtake may be to break the 70 mph limit. A driver who wants to drive at the 70 mark may be just as prone to road rage as one who comes up behind a driver doing only 40 mph on a 70 road. So here comes the message. In their wisdom, lawmakers around the country are producing a patchwork of laws to penalize people who drive below the speed limit and inconvenience other road users. That means you should know the law in every state where you drive. If in doubt, don’t drive too slow and never camp out in the left lane of a highway.

Driving already done and sent

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