Forget boy racers, the new threat to British drivers comes from cars going too SLOWLY: Number of low-speed accidents soars by a third
- Two people died and 175 were injured by drivers going too slowly in 2017
- AA warns ‘driving like a snail’ can be every bit as dangerous as going too fast
- Middle-lane hogs driving below motorway limit identified as particular threat
The number of road crash casualties caused by slow drivers has surged by almost a third, official figures show.
They caused 175 injuries and two deaths on UK roads in 2017, Department for Transport figures show.
It represents a 31 per cent increase in a year, raising concerns that hesitant or slow drivers – including so-called middle lane hogs – could be emerging as a safety threat. The figures also detail incidents where a slow-moving vehicle was a contributory factor.
Two people died and 175 were injured by drivers going too slowly on UK roads in 2017
While campaigners often focus on the dangers posed by speeding drivers, AA president Edmund King warned that ‘driving like a snail can be as dangerous as driving like a cheetah’.
He said large numbers of motorway users hog the middle lane and drive far below the speed limit, which can fuel dangerous overtaking as well as congestion.
‘I was in a queue of five cars joining the M3 recently when the lead driver was driving at approximately 25mph,’ he said. ‘It was incredibly dangerous.’
Driving well below the speed limit can lead to punishment for careless driving – an offence that normally carries a £100 fine and three points on a licence.
While most instances of slow driving will result in a verbal warning from police, a maximum penalty of £5,000 and nine penalty points could be issued if a case goes to court.
Minimum speeds are rare on UK roads but are in place at some high-risk locations, such as tunnels, with drivers notified by a circular blue sign.
The Department for Transport statistics also show that 261 people died as a result of drivers being ‘careless, reckless or in a hurry’, while there were 19,639 casualties resulting from such incidents.
A DfT spokesman said: ‘Careless driving including driving too slowly is an offence and anyone caught faces prosecution.’
AA has warned that ‘driving like a snail’ can be every bit as dangerous as going too fast
The rise of slow drivers could be down to the record number of elderly drivers on Britain’s roads, according to the AA.
DVLA figures show almost 5million of the 39 million driving licence holders are aged over 70. More than 100,000 of these are aged over 90.
AA spokesman Luke Bosdet told the Daily Telegraph: ‘The vast majority of elderly drivers drive locally and stick to set routes.
‘But if they are driving slowly on the motorways when they go on longer journeys to see a relative, than that becomes a problem.’
Mr Bosdet also said impatient motorists behind slow drivers can cause accidents, adding ‘some people are so keen to get ahead they will take risks’.
Older drivers must complete a self-assessment every three years and declare they are in good enough shape to continue driving.
But there is no requirement to take a formal driving test or medical before they go back on the roads. A poll of 2,000 UK drivers commissioned by car maker Hyundai this year found slow drivers is the seventh most common cause for motorists to swear.
Research published last year by Queensland University of Technology found the risk of accidents rises when motorists slow down to use their mobile phone.
The study suggested it prompted tail-end crashes, congestion and frustrated drivers performing aggressive overtaking manoeuvres.