Slow still gets there. (Submitted)

Settling a Debate About Impeding Traffic

We think it’s the slow drivers that cause problems but it’s seldom the case

Speed.

I’ve probably said this before, but when I applied the same tolerance under the speed limit as I did for those driving over the speed limit and factored in the advisory signs for speed I seldom found a driver going slower. Having sat and considered for a minute, I cannot recall writing a ticket for slow driving during my traffic enforcement career.

I do remember stopping the odd driver and suggesting that if they felt it was necessary to drive at a slower speed and they started leading a parade, they should pull over, stop and let everyone go by. That courtesy might also be a lifesaver as the probability of an unsafe pass by an impatient follower can be quite high.

B.C.’s slow driving law forbids driving at a speed that impedes the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, unless a reduced speed is necessary for safety.

What is reasonable? Ultimately that would be decided by the justice in traffic court but I can think of many reasons for driving at reduced speed:

  • A learner driver that is not yet confident in the situation
  • A heavy commercial vehicle traveling downgrade
  • Approaching and passing a temporary hazard
  • Driving at night
  • Poor weather conditions
  • Following an erratic driver

Now we have to consider the variability of that decision. What I consider reasonable might differ from you, also for many reasons. It’s not a simple as speeding where merely driving at a speed over the limit is an offence.

An interesting aside here is the Japanese koreisha mark that is displayed by senior drivers. It is optional at age 70 and mandatory for those 75 and older to indicate that their age could affect their ability to drive. I wonder if respect for seniors translates to some accommodation being granted to these people?

When there are multiple lanes of travel, slower drivers must use the right hand lanes, even if they are traveling at the speed limit.

Here’s a situation where honking at another driver is part of the law. Except when passing on the right is permitted, if an overtaking driver sounds their horn, you are required to give way to the right and allow them to pass.

What we’ve discussed so far applies to all highways whether they have single or multiple lanes for a direction of travel. B.C.’s current law requires slower drivers to move out of the left lane when overtaken by faster traffic. This applies even when the slower driver is traveling at the speed limit.

That said, slower drivers are NOT totally banned from the left lanes. They may use them at lower speeds if they are:

  • Passing someone else in the right lane
  • Allowing someone to merge onto the highway
  • Preparing to turn left
  • Following the requirements of the Slow Down, Move Over rules

So, to the gentleman that asked me to settle a debate over whether a driver could receive a ticket for impeding traffic even if they were going the speed limit on a single lane highway I would have to answer that it would be very unlikely, but possible if they failed to give way when honked at.

That happens less than 80 times a year in our province.

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