Starting July 1, slow drivers who hog the fast lanes of Georgia highways may get in trouble with the law. Under the state’s new “Slowpoke Bill” they could be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $1,000.
Representative Bill Hitchens, a former Georgia State Patrol commander, introduced the bill, which passed within weeks of its introduction. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed it in March.
The bill grew out of drivers’ frustration with slow drivers who cause traffic backups. Some traffic studies have found that slow drivers may be as dangerous as speeders.
Slow drivers impede the flow of traffic and cause other drivers to become distracted, reckless or even enraged.
Motorists who are driving close to the maximum speed limit of a congested highway do not expect to come up on another driver creeping along in the left lane. The result may be a rear-end collision or multicar pile-up. Or a driver may try to veer around a slowpoke to the right and sideswipe a vehicle in another lane.
Allstate Insurance says slowpoke drivers include those who are:
- Distracted. Driving while using a phone can reduce focus by 37 percent, the government website distraction.gov reports. When drivers take their eyes off the road they tend to slow down. Texting reduces their ability to process other information, including any traffic that suddenly appears in the rearview mirror.
- Tourists. Tourists often drive below the speed limit while taking their time to enjoy the sights. Often they are driving slowly as they try to navigate an unfamiliar area.
- Youth. Young drivers are usually associated with speeding, but they often drive too slowly. As uncertain drivers, they may be unfamiliar with surroundings and scenarios that experienced drivers navigate with confidence, so they travel at a snail’s pace to compensate.
- Senior citizens. Senior drivers experience many conditions that may cause them to drive at a slow pace. They may suffer from arthritis and stiff joints, reducing the amount of pressure they can apply to the gas pedal. Or they may suffer from diminished senses, including hearing and vision, which inhibits their ability to notice hazards, read street signs and gauge distances to other cars and pedestrians.
The National Motorists Association supports laws regulating driving in the left lane. In its Lane Courtesy Fact Sheet, the organization outlines the following benefits of driving in the proper lane:
- Fewer car wrecks. Driving slowly in the passing lane obstructs faster drivers, often leading them to tailgate and weave in and out of traffic. Smoother flowing traffic results in fewer accidents.
- Better gas mileage. When traffic flows smoothly, vehicles run at an even pace, which improves fuel economy.
- Earlier arrival times. Yielding to faster traffic reduces congestion, and when traffic is flowing smoothly, highways operate at optimum capacity and drivers reach their destinations on time.
- Friendlier motorists. Many drivers become enraged when they encounter left-lane hogs. The courteous act of moving to the right can help curb conflict among motorists.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were more than 5.6 million vehicle crashes in 2012, a 5 percent increase from 2011. This high incidence of wrecks indicates that most people will be involved in an accident at some point in their lives. Most will suffer property damage only, but in some cases, vehicle occupants may be injured or killed.
The most common type of accident resulting from slow driving in the fast lane is a rear-end collision. In this type of accident, it may be difficult to prove who was at fault, though the driver of the car that rear-ended the vehicle in front is usually cited for a moving violation. A driver who strikes another vehicle from the rear and is injured may be able to collect damages by showing that the driver in front violated the law.
If you or someone you love has been harmed because of an accident caused by a slow driver, you may have legal rights and options at your disposal, as it’s quite possible that this slow driver was negligent.
An experienced Georgia car accident attorney can help you gather the evidence you need to prove your accident was caused by a slow driver and will advise you on your legal rights and options.