Slow drivers creating ‘dangerous driving scenarios’

11.31 | 2 January 2020 | | 38 comments

Image: RAC News

Drivers are being warned of the ‘dangerous’ scenarios which can be created by driving too slow.

DfT figures show that in 2018, two fatal collisions were caused by a person driving too slow for the conditions – in addition to 24 collisions which led to serious injuries.

RAC News says while slow speeds are rarely a direct cause of accidents, associated behaviours often lead to dangerous driving scenarios.

This includes ‘ill-judged’ overtaking, tailbacks and those who fail to merge properly with motorways.

The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) says slow drivers cause ‘frustration’, which can lead to dangerous manoeuvers.

Hugh Bladon, a founding member of the ABD, said: “I’m not in the least bit surprised by these worrying statistics.

“I have advocated for a long time that driving too slow causes frustration for other people and can cause them to attempt an overtaking manoeuvre, which is the most dangerous thing you can do on the roads.”

Police can charge drivers with driving too slowly, a punishment that comes with three points and a £100 fine.

Minimum speed limits aren’t common in the UK, although some tunnels do have a minimum and maximum speed limit.

Road signs indicating a minimum speed limit are found in a blue circle with a white font, the end of a minimum speed zone is shown by a sign featuring a red line through the number.



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    When I drive I pray asking God to protect all on the roadways and to help me be the best judgment driver . I rely then on
    his divine guidance , understanding there is no place he and I have to be that cannot wait for us. For he God continues to show me his delays can be a protection. Once telling my niece hurry for your appointment, driving her there, to later see the store employee had forgotten to schedule it.

    Sonja Sampson, New Orleans
    Agree (0) | Disagree (1)

    I most definitely agree that driving too slowly is very dangerous! I am a truck driver and atrociously bad standard of driving on our roads today is, quite frankly terrifying!

    On one occasion on the M40, around the Stratford area, there are 2 on slips fairly close together. The roads were busy and very wet. A lady driving at no more than 40mph believed she had the God given right to join the motorway, regardless of all other traffic already on the motorway. I was driving a fully loaded 40 ton truck in the nearside lane, with the other 2 lanes nose to tail. She pulled out infront of me, doing no more than 40mph, I was doing 56mph! If I had jammed on my brakes, with the wet road it was quite possible that I would have jack knifed, possibly crashing into the other 2 lanes. To this day I have no idea how I didn’t hit her! Oh, I did blast the horn and she, despite the wet, wound down her window and gave a 2 finger salute!

    About a mile, give or take, there was another on slip and this lady decided to STOP on the nearside lane to let the vehicles join the motorway! On this occasion I was lucky, as a driver in the middle lane, I am guessing also a trucker or an ex trucker, even though he was in a car, took the risk of braking – not harshly – and flashed his lights to tell me I was safe to pull out. If he hadn’t done that I would have had no option but to drive right into her, even though I had been leaving a reasonable distance.

    Some people have said she may just have been nervous. I did not think so, however, if that was the case, in order to keep herself and other road users safe and alive, she should seek lessons to help her overcome her nervousness, where a qualified instructor could also explain to her how dangerous it is to drive too slowly on the motorway and to enter the motorway with no thought to those already on it!

    Those who drive well below the speed limit are dangerous. After all, most of us lead busy lives and there are, candidly, too many cars on our roads, which are not meant for so many! Slow drivers also need to understand that, despite them having all the time in the world, most other people don’t! Many of us are trying to get to work, or may have an important appointment, perhaps medical, legal or financial, that they need to get to. Even leaving in plenty of time does not mean that these slow coaches won’t make you late and therefore having to make another appointment! Candidly, driving too slowly these days is ignorant, selfish and downright dangerous!

    Lyn Ladds, Worcestershire
    Agree (31) | Disagree (4)

    I understand you and in that context agree. However, while this could be seen as too much playing on words, I feel there is an important difference between ‘slow nervous’ and ‘slow cautious.’ Indeed, perhaps ‘steady cautious’ is a better desciptor. That said, yes, fast, reckless and over-confident drivers would call them slow. That goes some way to making your point. I also agree that ‘too fast’ is more dangerous than ‘too slow’ but I don’t think the dangers caused by those who probably in their ‘heart of hearts’ know they should not be driving, should be understated.

    I actually agree with a lot of what you say. It just disappoints me you seemingly reject the need to encourage less car use for short journeys and the need for cycling infrastructure

    John Thompson, LOWESTOFT
    Agree (3) | Disagree (12)

    John and Nigel: One man’s ‘slow’ is another man’s reasonable speed. I too think there are some drivers who should not be on the road, but they are not the ‘slow, nervous,’ drivers but the ‘fast, over-confident’ types. I would rather the roads were populated by ‘slow’ (i.e. cautious) than the fast (i.e reckless) drivers.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (14) | Disagree (31)

    Points noted, John, and fair comments, bearing in mind there were a number of ‘ifs’ in my comment. You note that there are some slow drivers who certainly should not be on the road, fair enough, but equally the same can be said that for some fast and impetuous drivers. In other words for the average Joe, as you realise, there are good and bad, safe and unsafe, sensible and stupid, and any individual is not going to change that so it just comes down to the fact that we have to handle it protect our own safety and keep our sanity at the same time.

    Nigel Albright
    Agree (3) | Disagree (3)

    Nigel: I do not believe in “tarring” members of any group “all with the same brush” including ABD members. However, it strikes me many of them get involved with road safety issues not out of any genuine safety concerns but because it involves measures, such as slower speed limits, which they consider adversely affect them and intepret it as being nothing but ‘anti-drivers.’

    In fairness, one does see drivers going unnecessarily slowly. Frankly, they tend to be those who should not be on the roads, e.g. those who are too nervous and, while not wanting to be unkind, some elderly people conscious their reactions are not fast enough. Thus,the reason they are driving slowly means that even at slow speeds they are a danger to cyclists, pedestrians, horse riders etc. That said it does not excuse dangerous overtaking. However, if the ABD had limited its comments to those drivers I would not have thought it so unreasonable. As it stands taking the ABD’s comment to its logical conclusion it might be argued learner drivers cause frustration leading to dangerous manouvres. I remember when I was learning,(driving school name and L plates fully displayed) on one occasion I temporarily slowed because I got into a little muddle and someone overtook me immediately before a bend. However, in terms of a 30 mph limit I wasn’t going that slow and the driver had to exceed that to get past as much as he (it was a ‘he’) could before the bend.

    I believe the ABD is ‘clutching at straws’ for arguments against slower speed limits.

    John Thompson, Lowestoft
    Agree (5) | Disagree (10)

    Well, we are now up to +16 -20 and if the latter is the ABD deliberately stacking up their numbers then that offers two options (a) Either ignore them on the basis that most understand what their thinking is and how much it is off-piste or, (2) Face them head-on and show them up for what they really are in terms of understanding what makes for good safe road driving. At the moment the ABD, if it is them, is just showing what they do not know or understand rather than what they do and could be in the category of needing less muscle and more brain. In which case I would respectfully suggest they get on to some advanced courses.
    I remember with great pride the time I spent with Advanced Wing Hendon Instructors and two in particular who were on the skid pan who had been at the school for some 18 and 20 years. When visiting them, and if it wasn’t convenient to drive on the pan, we generally sat around the table and over coffee discussed aspects of driving. The interesting thing is that they were always asking me what I thought of this or that when I was there to soak up any knowledge from their greater understanding of the subject. Years later I caught up with Derek again and asked him about this. His modest reply was that they always wanted to see if there was anything I understood just a little bit better than they did. Even with their background and knowledge they were still open to learning how they might do it better. That is probably why they were the best. Effectively I am afraid that also means that those who will not learn fall into the category of can not learn and automatically relegate themselves possibly to the lowest level of understanding and ability.

    Nigel Albright
    Agree (5) | Disagree (2)

    Charles Wells: It’s ironic you ask if I believe alcohol tax pays, so to speak, for the Kent hopfields and tobacco tax pays for tobacco. It is precisely the point cyclists make to drivers about so called ‘road tax.’ You might be surprised how many drivers think it does go directly on roads and do not realise it is a stealth tax going to general taxation and is based on theoretical carbon emissions. That is since March 2001, before which it was based on engine size. Bikes, at least in use, (production I accept is somewhat another matter but still significantly less than the car industry) do not produce carbon emissions in theory or practice and do not have engines.

    On the point about it being dubbed ‘road tax,’ I accept your point in that sense but it is what causes the problem with many drivers. I reiterate, some cars are now exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty.

    John Thompson, LOWESTOFT
    Agree (3) | Disagree (4)

    John Thompson, the article you cite is repeating the myth, and is playing with words. An “excise duty” is, by definition, a tax. A tax on road use can rightly be called a “road tax”. That a tax is levied for the use of something, and only by some users, does not imply that its proceeds pay for the provision of that thing. Or do you believe that alcohol tax is used to pay for alcohol and tobacco tax for tobacco? And the article is wrong too about the basis for vehicle excise duty, as you were – it is not based on vehicle emissions, it is the same flat rate whether you drive your car 1 mile of 30,000 miles a year. The fact that some road users are not charged road tax does not mean it isn’t a tax either – would you say there is no such thing as “income tax” because some people with an income do not have to pay it?

    Charles, Wells
    Agree (2) | Disagree (1)

    Nigel: It’s certainly a sign of how things have changed. I’m retired now but my work cycle ride was just under two miles, slightly longer on return because of the one-way system. One colleague commented, “That’s a fair way!” Utterly ridiculous and actually extremely sad and serious. A lot of people would say that nowadays. It says it all!

    John Thompson, LOWESTOFT
    Agree (4) | Disagree (3)

    Thanks, John. Points noted. Days of yore I cycled 4 miles to school and back every day and thought nothing of it.

    Nigel Albright
    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

    Nigel and indeed some others: I regard the large number of “disagrees” for my postings as a sign of my success!

    Considering the gist of most of my postings, it raises the question of what exactly they disagree with. Acknowledging the occasional exception, very few have posted explaining why they disagree. It indicates many drivers are clicking “disagree” without giving any real thought to the substance of what is said because they just feel they have to defend drivers at all costs. In other words, the more they click “disagree” for the sake of it, the more they are making my point. I urge the ABD to keep up the good work!

    That said, for my postings I don’t think it’s just the ABD. On the postings on funding for cycling I commented words to the effect people have got to be discouraged from using cars for short journeys, particularly the school run. No surprise that got a lot of ‘disagrees!”

    John Thompson, LOWESTOFT
    Agree (5) | Disagree (5)

    Charles Wells: You might like to try this:

    It strikes me you are playing on my precise wording

    John Thompson, LOWESTOFT
    Agree (2) | Disagree (3)

    Many thanks, Rod, for your supportive commments. Points noted.

    Nigel Albright
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)


    I suggest you wear your “disagrees” as a badge of honour. When you get an article originated by the ABD then you can expect their supporters to be following the article closely and making their disagrees and support known for respective comments.

    They represent a very small minority of the motoring public and an even smaller minority of the population as a whole.

    Thank you for your enlightened views and your patience in responding to some of the comments.

    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (3) | Disagree (13)

    How very interesting. We now have 16 out of 28 disagreeing with my item below, which is 57%. May I draw their attention to HC 147 which, amongst other things, says:
    ‘Try to be understanding if other road users cause problems; they may be inexperienced or not know the area well.
    be patient; remember that anyone can make a mistake.’
    But more particularly:
    ‘do not allow yourself to become agitated or involved if someone is behaving badly on the road. This will only make the situation worse. Pull over, calm down and, when you feel relaxed, continue your journey.
    slow down and hold back if a road user pulls out into your path at a junction. Allow them to get clear. Do not over-react by driving too close behind to intimidate them.’
    Clearly these 16 people are generally in disagreement with these basic precepts.
    I would dearly love to get anyone of those in the car and see what their road behavior and safety level is really like. And if anyone wants my contact details I give Nick my permission to provide them.

    Nigel Albright, TAUNTON
    Agree (4) | Disagree (5)

    John Thompson, you are wrong in saying that “road tax” was abolished in 1937, that is a myth peddled (spell-checked!) by some cyclists whose knowledge of road politics history is in need of improvement. What happened in the 1930s was that the road tax revenue (paid in exchange for a ‘road fund licence’) stopped being paid directly into the ‘road fund’, and instead, was treated as general taxation.

    Road tax is still very much in existence, and now called “vehicle excise duty”, and paid in exchange for a digital ‘vehicle licence’, and is still a form of general taxation. The duty (a tax) is levied only on certain types of vehicles and only for use on public roads, hence it is a “vehicle road use tax”, or “road tax” for short (which is defined as such in the OED). And no, it isn’t related to carbon emissions, a car owner pays a flat rate per year, regardless of emissions. It is now (loosely) related to a *theoretical potential* to produce carbon emissions, based on the results of controlled tests in a laboratory environment.

    Charles, Wells
    Agree (19) | Disagree (6)

    Off the subject slightly, but still concerning ‘dangerous driving scenarios’, unfortunately there is a small element amongst all classes of road users who seem to delight in deliberately making it awkward for other road users (who they perversely seem to regard as the enemy). E.g. drivers knowingly passing too close to cyclists and horses; pedestrians and runners in the c/way instead of the adjoining footway (why?); drivers in a queue narrowing the gaps to block two-wheeled riders passing; cyclists riding two abreast with following traffic so they can have a conversation etc. etc. It’s as though a small contingent of each class of road user is trying to reclaim the highway for themselves instead of sharing. I’m sure we’ve all got other examples.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (6) | Disagree (5)

    This is clearly about a situation getting out of proportion and not being properly understood. Yes, it is possible to be prosecuted for driving too slowly but that law (as such) is clearly meant for unsuitably slow speed for the conditions and, for example, one where a general obstruction is being caused, such as in a tunnel.
    The idea that in general a driver should concede to the frustrations of others is basically condoning bad attitudes. You are doing 30 in a 30 zone and you have someone frustratingly stamping on your tail because you are not going at the speed they want to go at, which may result in an impatient overtake. Who is to blame?
    I am in the process on writing an article on mental attitude and part of that is that (1) you will meet a wide variety of situations on the road some of which will plainly be stupid or thoughtless behaviour and you just have to handle it so (2) Is that part of the development of a good driver is controlling ones mindset so that one does not get emotionally involved with situations. Getting emotionally involved, for whatever reason, induces a bias in ones thinking and, in turn, will affect ones assessment and interpretation of situations which, for example, in the case of overtaking, can be fatal.

    Another point is that many drivers drive too fast for the conditions and also follow much too closely, which makes them vulnerable to crashes. Point one is that a former advanced wing police driving instructor said the art is knowing when to go slowly, it’s not knowing when to go fast. Point two is that there is a £100 fine and 3 points penalty for driving too closely and also that any driver whose vehicle crashes into the back of another could be prosecuted under HC126 supported by para 3 of the HC introduction, and they should be in my book.

    Basically, it is your responsibility to take care of your own safety, no body elses. And getting frustrated or irritated with any consequent actions leading to conflict or a crash is not in the frame and should not be condoned.

    In that context comments from the lead text in this item are distinctly worrying, such as:

    RAC News says while slow speeds are rarely a direct cause of accidents, associated behaviours often lead to dangerous driving scenarios.

    This includes ‘ill-judged’ overtaking, tailbacks and those who fail to merge properly with motorways.

    The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) says slow drivers cause ‘frustration’, which can lead to dangerous manoeuvres.
    And these are comments from people professing to represent key organisations interested in RS. Sorry, no thank you.

    Nigel Albright
    Agree (21) | Disagree (25)

    One should drive according to the conditions. As an ADI I was trained to refer to conditions of the environment, the driver and the vehicle. having driven with glass fish tanks in the boot I have driven slower than normally expected on some roads but good use of mirrors allowed me to use my lights, touch of brake, and horn to alert the following drivers of my presence. This recommended by The DfT and Sussex Police.

    Peter Wilson, Chichester
    Agree (14) | Disagree (13)

    Perhaps as Adrian has pointed out, the headline should really read “99.9% of fatal crashes not caused by slow drivers”

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (17) | Disagree (22)

    We have that dear old expression “road tax” being used again. There has been no such thing as “road tax” since 1937, when Winston Churchill abolished it. Surely on here of all places we all know drivers pay a Vehicle Excise Duty, which relates to its carbon emissions. If cyclists were ‘liable’ the amount would be £0.00 and some cars are ex3empt.

    With regard cyclists riding two-abreast, I will make the same comment as I made relating to the debate about funding for cycling (rather it should have been a debate on funding but so many just saw it as another opportunity to demonise cyclists) and await lots of disagree clicks!. One good reason for riding two-abreast is because it’s safer – yes, seriously! Far more often than not it ensures drivers wait until it is safe to pass rather than taking idiotic chancing passing the cyclists too fast and close. I state that from nearly 60 years experience of cycling. The point it can be easier to overtake cyclists when two-abreast than when riding single file because in effect there are fewer of them to pass admittedly depends on the nature of the road and the situation but it often can be. again, I await lots of “disagree” clicks!

    John Thompson, LOWESTOFT
    Agree (18) | Disagree (25)

    If you are being tailgated or followed too closely, you have to drive slower to compensate. If they backed off, perhaps we could be allowed to speed up slightly. Those who claim frustration need to ask themselves why the car in front is going ‘slow’ in the first place and analyse their own driving.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (10) | Disagree (28)

    If 2 fatalities were caused by people driving too slowly, that means that 1780 were not caused by people driving too slowly. I think I know where I would put my effort

    Adrian Berendt, Tunbridge Wells
    Agree (19) | Disagree (24)

    Thank you Howard Flint for offering a contribution to the discussion rather than just expressing disapproval.

    Road tax, as I’m sure you’re aware, is a charge based on the pollution created by your vehicle. Cyclists pay nothing on this basis

    Insurance – many cyclists have this, it is a precaution which protects all parties

    Licence – maybe you have a point that cyclists on the highway should be able to demonstrate a level of competence. I would have to observe though that thousands of people annually are injured and sometimes killed on the roads by people who hold licences. Demonstrating competence in a test is not a guarantee of practising competence for real

    Common sense – cyclists are taught to “own” space on the road. Even riding alone it is sometimes wise to move further out from the kerb. On a left-hand bend this means that drivers approaching from behind see you sooner and have more time to react. On a narrow road with frequent traffic this encourages drivers to wait for a sensible moment to overtake rather than trying to squeeze past between the cyclist and an oncoming vehicle. Assuming no-one wants there to be a collision, this makes sense for all concerned. As you have noted, cyclists do move over as appropriate.

    I’ve already acknowledged that some cyclists are selfish and inconsiderate and that frustrates me as much as it does you, but nobody guarantees you the right to proceed without taking account of the presence of other road users, selfish or otherwise.

    Tim, West Midlands
    Agree (17) | Disagree (28)

    Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that in an article that references the ABD (and presumably circulated on social marketing by them) that many of the agrees/disagrees are anti-cycling. I would therefore suggest that the agrees/disagrees on this article are not representative of road safety professionals.

    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (17) | Disagree (36)

    This news story is not about slow road users per se e.g. cyclists or horse riders who can’t help be relatively slow moving anyway, but ‘slow’ motor vehicle drivers. Who defines ‘slow’? One man’s ‘slow’ is another man’s reasonable speed or even, as Tim put it “anyone driving slower than I want to go”. The latter group are the problem. Those in the know would call driving slowly ‘driving cautiously’ or ‘defensively’. Look and learn.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (9) | Disagree (29)

    Maybe it would be useful to have a dedicated part of the website for demonising cyclists. That way we could discus road safety matters without being distracted by such attacks on cyclists.

    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (9) | Disagree (35)

    When I go out running I often come across cyclists who occupy the width of the road causing motorists to slow down to a crawl before the person on the outside decides to move over. They space themselves out to take up the whole road, it looks deliberate, perhaps they should start paying road tax and insurance and get a license as they don’t seem to have much common sense.

    Howard Flint, Derby
    Agree (40) | Disagree (12)

    Regarding cyclists riding two or more abreast, the Highway Code says cyclists should not ride more than two abreast, the implication being that they may ride two abreast. The same applies to horse riders. In fact there is no legal reference on this so it appears to be advice rather than requirement. In reality there are considerate cyclists and selfish cyclists, just as in other road user groups. Considerate cyclists monitor their circumstances and adjust their position to minimise their impact on other traffic while still ensuring their own safety and progress. Selfish cyclists don’t care how much obstruction they cause. Regardless of this, there are legitimate reasons for cyclists (and probably horse riders) sometimes riding two abreast which, as far as I am aware is permitted.

    Tim, West Midlands
    Agree (16) | Disagree (30)

    Personally I am horrified at how glibly this issue has been distorted to point blame at “driving slowly”. The RAC say clearly that it is associated behaviours not speed itself that are the problem. And for sure, some associated behaviours may belong to the “slow driver”, e.g. indecision, lack of confidence, failure to exercise judgement in specific situations. But the debate has been hijacked to mean “anyone driving slower than I want to go”. It is suggested that this “makes” or “causes” people to engage in risky overtaking but this is an abuse of both these verbs. You can make me surrender my wallet by threatening me with a knife. But the only thing I have been made or caused to do by a slow driver is regret I didn’t allow more time for my journey. If you feel compelled to put lives at risk in such a situation, make no mistake, the problem is not with the slow driver – it is with you. To think otherwise is simply delusional.

    Tim, West Midlands
    Agree (19) | Disagree (37)

    When I’m out on the horse I often see cyclists in 2’s and 3’s riding like they are a rolling road block I thought that was something the Police did. Horses are wider than bicycles yet I manage to keep to the nearside why can’t they do the same and follow the Highway Code like the rest of us?

    Sally, N.Yorks
    Agree (51) | Disagree (10)

    When I’m out riding my horse I’ve noticed that motorcyclists are some of the most courteous road users out there, you’d think they are just cafe boy racers but no they are attentive. They slow down, to less than 15mph, give a wide birth, turn the engine noise off or something like that. I only wish car drivers were less selfish when zooming past.

    Jill, Yorkshire
    Agree (54) | Disagree (0)

    “Overtaking safely is something you learn and should be competent at…” Alternatively, regard it as a risky and unnecessary manoeuvre (on single c/way roads), ‘learn’ to be patient and don’t do it!

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (12) | Disagree (60)

    ” Is it time we introduced compulsory retesting and get substandard drivers off the roads?”

    Yep. People who “get frustrated easily” or are prone to “overtaking dangerously” or are likely to “take additional risk to get past” should not be in charge of lethal machines in public places. Let’s identify them and ensure they are not allowed to drive.

    Rod King, Warrington
    Agree (14) | Disagree (54)

    Overtaking safely is something you learn and should be competent at before getting a license. There are some drivers who believe it is there duty to regulate the speed limit by driving as if they have only one fixed speed regardless of the road or conditions, oddly they often drive above 30 in a 30 and can’t get to 40 in a 50. Failure to make adequate progress used to be a reason to fail your test. The frustration they cause make others take additional risk to get past. There should be penalties for driving like a snail for no reason other than to annoy everyone. Lately, I see these drivers following cyclists for hundreds of yards with plenty of room to get past…over 2m yet refuse to do so. Is it time we introduced compulsory retesting and get substandard drivers off the roads?

    John Hayes, Leeds
    Agree (90) | Disagree (13)

    Anyone claiming “frustration” as the reason for injuring someone shouldn’t be in charge of a potentially lethal weapon. Psychological testing for a driving licence ?

    Paul Luton, Teddington
    Agree (20) | Disagree (74)

    On the other hand, far more collisions don’t happen in the first place, because some drivers had the sense to be driving ‘slowly’.

    If, as the ABD spokesperson says “ overtaking manoeuvre.. is the most dangerous thing you can do on the roads.” Well don’t do it! ..patience is a virtue when driving.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (16) | Disagree (91)

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