When discussing the driving decisions that cause collisions, people often focus on obviously unsafe habits. Driving at an excessively high speed, for example, increases the likelihood that someone might lose control of their vehicle and cause a wreck. Speeding is a dangerous habit to get into on the road and one that is relatively common. Some people over-correct for this risk factor by slowing down to an extreme degree.
Yet, driving at lower speeds isn’t necessarily as safe as people think. Slow drivers should typically occupy the right-hand lane of a multi-lane road, and they can cause traffic congestion when there is only one lane of traffic. They might also contribute to other people’s crash risk when they attempt to pass them in traffic or provoke others into bouts of road rage.
Differences in speed contribute to safety issues
There are many scenarios in which reducing one’s speed is an appropriate response to traffic conditions. Wet pavement is a perfect example. Drivers will need longer to come to a full stop on wet pavement, and therefore they may want to slow down to minimize their collision risk.
However, they will also want to monitor the rate of traffic nearby. It is generally advisable for motorists to both observe the posted speed limit and seek to travel at the same speed as others nearby in traffic. Those who drive well below the speed limit and deviate from the overall flow of traffic may increase their collision risk rather than reduce it.
Research has specifically shown that when one motorist drives at a rate 10 miles an hour different from others in traffic, their chances of a collision will be six times higher than the risk of others in traffic. Additionally, they may be at elevated risk of provoking a road rage incident and inspiring someone else to lash out at them in a violent manner.
Police officers may ticket slow drivers who have impeded the flow of traffic or cite them as being responsible for a crash. They may also target them for traffic stops because slower driving sometimes has an association with chemical impairment. Ultimately, driving too slow can be nearly as hazardous as driving too fast, depending on an individual’s circumstances.