Slow drivers ‘more dangerous than speeding’

Slow drivers ‘more dangerous than speeding’

As the ban on middle-lane hoggers bites, bad drivers still causing chaos

Speeding is a killer, but so is driving too slowly without taking the prevailing road conditions into account, it appears.

While a huge proportion of road accidents are the result of excessive speed, slower drivers are also a significant cause of accidents, leading to calls for minimum speed limits on some roads, a leading British car leasing company says.

According to Flexed.co.uk, the new regulations designed to prevent ‘middle-lane hogs’ on British roads are producing results (albeit in the form of fines going to government), but there’s still some way to go to get the message across that sometimes slower isn’t always safer.

“Slow drivers can be a menace on some roads,” says Flexed.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall. “When drivers don’t keep up with the prevailing road conditions, they become a mobile chicane and a danger to others.”

In fact, many professional drivers told Flexed.co.uk that it’s the slower, unpredictable road user that they worry about the most, saying that most appear not to have conventional road sense that most others possess.

After interviewing lorry and van drivers, couriers and taxi owners, Flexed says there’s appetite among road users not only to take speeding seriously, but also slow drivers who contribute to dangerous road conditions.

  • “More than once I’ve nearly rear-ended somebody driving at 30mph on a dual carriageway while everybody else was doing 60-plus,” one HGV driver told Flexed.co.uk, “They just seemed to be in another world.”
  • Another HGV driver said: “My rig is speed-limited to below 70mph, but I still have to negotiate my way round some car users who can’t drive to the road conditions. It annoys me, and it annoys the traffic that builds up as I pass. They’re a mobile bottleneck, and a real danger to road safety. Rant over.”

Many studies have produced data that show slow drivers pose a significant risk on the roads, simply because they are more likely to be overtaken, and tempt other road users into risky manoeuvres.

“Now, we’re not saying that slow drivers are doing anything illegal. They’re not, and they probably count themselves as some of the safest drivers on the road. But the fact is, there’s careful, and there’s over-compensating to the point of driving without due care.”

Flexed.co.uk points to the recent implementation for laws to prevent ‘middle-lane hoggers’ from holding up traffic and forcing other drivers into overtakes into faster-moving traffic.

“We had doubts over the lane-hogging law when it first came out, and while enforcement is patchy, it is certainly having an effect on motorways and other main roads,” says Hall. “But the fact is, it took legislation to force people who thought they were driving safely and slowly to realise that this is not actually the case.”

One professional driver told Flexed that it could be time to introduce a minimum speed limit on motorways and selected roads.

  • “The M25 has variable speed limit signs that work very well in keeping the traffic moving in peak times”, taxi driver Barry told us, “And the door can swing both ways – how about minimum speeds to improve the traffic flow? If you’re doing less than 45mph on a clear motorway, you shouldn’t be on it.”

While the suggestion raises eyebrows, it could be one whose time has come, Flexed says. The technology is certainly there to monitor traffic flows on major roads, and it could certainly be possible to suggest that drivers travel between two target speeds. But, the car leasing company says, this shouldn’t be about driving slower, more careful drivers off the road.

“This isn’t a witch hunt against slow drivers”, says Hall, “because heaven knows there’s enough bad drivers with lead boots. What we’re suggesting is that motorists are more aware of the traffic conditions, and drive accordingly.

“Speeding kills, but driving like a tortoise can sometimes be risky too.”