Slow Drivers: Safe or Hazardous?

In Houston, when we think about slow drivers, we usually think of our own frustration. No one wants to be stuck behind someone riding at a crawl. However, what we don’t consider is the dangers these drivers pose to others on the road. 

Oftentimes, we think of speeding or distracted driving when we think about unsafe driving habits. Across the country, people everywhere recognize speeding as a contributor to car accidents

Still, it’s important to recognize that the inverse also causes issues on the road. While it sounds safer at first, slow driving puts many people at risk. In fact, many traffic officials consider it to be a traffic hazard. 

This is because it puts the driver and everyone around them at risk of injury. While many of these drivers face reduced risks themselves, they inadvertently lead to collisions for others. 

Can Slow Driving Get You a Ticket?

In certain states, slow drivers pose such a risk that they earn citations. Accordion to Texas Transportation Code Section 545.363, Texans cannot drive at such a low speed that they impede the “normal and reasonable” flow of traffic. Moreover, the sole exception to this is for compliance with the law and safety. 

Generally, it’s far less common for a driver to receive a ticket because they were moving too slowly. However, they can receive a ticket. Often, this occurs because the slow driver blocks traffic or becomes a road hazard. 

When it comes to preventing auto accidents, common sense is our greatest tool. Speeding and driving too slowly are both terrible ideas. Whenever possible, it’s best to avoid these behaviors. 

Instead, drive appropriately according to the condition of the road and how other drivers behave (when their behavior is legal). 

Generally speaking, these laws vary from state to state. However, many states have a statute that prevents drivers from moving too slowly. While these statutes don’t specifically say “driving too slowly,” they often describe the behavior as failure to move with the flow of traffic. 

In some cases, they lump this behavior in with a general impediment to the flow of traffic. 

Oftentimes, officers allow cars to move at lower speeds in the far-right lane. Typically, they enforce this statute when the slow drivers are in the “fast lane.” Still, it’s good to recognize the potential danger of a slow driver who causes those behind them to approach at a dangerous difference in speed. 

Who Are These Slow Drivers?

So, who are these slow drivers? Why are they moving so slow? There are many reasons behind slow driving. For some, it’s simply a habit. However, others face an unexpected issue and slow their speed. 

Let’s look at a few different causes. 

Tourists & Rubberneckers

“Rubbernecking” occurs when someone slows down to take in a sight. Unfortunately, this tends to happen around auto accidents because we want to know what went down. However, it includes tourists and others who take note of something on the side of the road. 

As these drivers look away from the road, they slow down absentmindedly. Houston is a popular tourist area, with an array of landmarks – from the Beer Can House to the Miller Outdoor Theater. This makes our city a prime example. 

Local drivers have to stay vigilant around these landmarks because we know visitors slow down to take a picture. How many times have you had to slow down as you approach that “Be Someone” because someone needs a picture of the most recent iteration?

Senior Drivers

It’s a cliche for sure, but there’s a reason for that. As we age, some of us become slow drivers. There are many reasons for this. 

From bad joints to poor vision, there are so many physical limitations that take hold later in life. That’s why it’s so important to be defensive and patient. Everyone ages. 

In fact, you might become a slow driver yourself. With defensive driving, we all help to prevent accidents.

Distracted Drivers

Typically, people recognize distracted drivers for their role in accidents with stationary vehicles and pedestrians. However, those distractions inadvertently cause them to slow down as well. 

Moreover, they put others at risk. 

If drivers don’t watch their speed in relation to other drivers, they become an obstacle that those around them don’t expect. Whether distracted drivers slow down to check their phones or look for their exits, they quickly become stationary objects themselves.

Inexperienced Drivers

Often, slow drivers are new to roads and freeways. Intimidated by all the action, they compensate for their nerves by slowing down. Unfortunately, their first merge onto a freeway is likely much slower than other vehicles. 

Typically, new drivers assume that their hesitation is a safe practice. Whenever you find yourself around a new driver, it’s important to stay alert. Do you remember what it was like when you first sat behind the wheel? 

Keep in mind that these drivers still have things to learn. Stay patient and defensive in your driving. 

Slow Drivers & Car Accidents

When people encounter slow drivers, their instinct is to overtake them. This is especially true when the slow driver is the cause of traffic on a two-lane road. 

After a car accident, it’s easy for someone to blame a passing motorist. However, slow drivers play a role in these accidents as well. 

Out on the road, it’s crucial for every driver to understand how their own actions impact the safety of pedestrians and drivers around them. This includes the speed of their vehicles. If you suspect you might be a slow driver, check your surroundings and your speed. 

When everyone around is faster, you might need to adjust your speed. Moreover, there’s no shame in heading over to a slower lane. This allows the flow of traffic to move without interruption. 

How to Deal with Slow Drivers (Safely)

If you find yourself near a slow driver, keep in mind your defensive driving practices. As you enter the situation, stay aware of your surroundings. If you want to pass them, do so on their left. 

When you encounter a slow driver in the far-left lane, slow down and keep your distance. Ideally, they merge to right once they realize people are slowing down behind them. Unfortunately, they don’t always reach this realization…

Most importantly, you need to keep yourself and others safe. Typically, it’s not a great idea to pass on the right. However, with a slow driver, it might be your best option. 

Before you overtake a slow driver, think through the following. 

  • Is there a reason they slowed down? Often, it’s easy to let the frustration take over. However, people occasionally have a good reason for what they do, and slow drivers may indicate a hazard you can’t see. 
  • Keep your emotions in check. Too often, frustration leads to quick changes. Practice caution and drive legally. 
  • Check your surroundings. Typically, no one advises passing on the right. When slow drivers pose a danger, though, it’s not a bad idea. 
  • What is your vehicle capable of? Don’t rush to change lanes if you aren’t sure how quickly you can accelerate. Use your signal and your patience. 

Remember, slow drivers tend to be dangerous because of how people react to them. Never let your emotions put you in danger. 

When Is It Okay to Drive Slowly?

Generally speaking, driving too slowly in normal conditions poses a danger to others. However, there are times when it’s a good idea to slow down. 

  • Poor weather conditions 
  • When the traffic around you slows down 
  • Near railroad tracks
  • Around public transportation 
  • When an animal is on the road

Above all, it’s essential for drivers to consider the condition of the road as they determine how to drive. When people around you slow down, follow the flow of traffic. That helps to keep everyone around you safe. 

Stay safe, alert, and adaptable. That’s the best way to protect yourself and the drivers around you. 

Did Slow Drivers Cause Your Accident?

When slow drivers cause an auto accident, they act in negligence. Their negligence means you have legal options to hold them accountable. The Houston car accident lawyers at Universal Law Group help victims of negligent drivers protect their futures. 

As you focus on recovery, we fight to maximize your settlement. We are your advocates against those who want to limit the compensation you receive. Schedule a free consultation today to see what we can do for you.