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The Dangers of Excessively Slow Driving

When discussing road safety, much emphasis is placed on the risks of speeding. This is certainly understandable, given the clear evidence that excessive speed is a primary contributor to traffic accidents and accounts for a substantial number of road fatalities. However, it is also crucial to consider the risks posed by drivers who travel too slowly. In this article, we will explore the data to understand how driving at excessively low speeds can likewise be hazardous, and we’ll examine how the dangers of excessively slow driving stack up to those of speeding.

The Case Against Speeding

As the old adage goes, "speed kills."  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that speeding contributes to about one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities annually. At higher speeds, drivers have reduced control over navigating curves or avoiding objects on the road, require longer distances to come to a complete stop, and have an extended reaction time to unforeseen hazards. Furthermore, the force of impact in a collision increases exponentially with speed, significantly raising the risk of severe injuries or fatalities. Research indicates that the likelihood of fatality in a car accident doubles with every 10 mph increase in speed.

The Risks Associated with Slow Driving

Conversely, the hazards of driving too slowly merit significant attention, as well. Drivers who operate their vehicles well below the speed limit on highways or in the fast lane can cause unforeseen conditions for others on the road. This can compel faster-moving drivers to decelerate abruptly or execute unsafe lane changes, actions that may result in traffic congestion, elevate the likelihood of rear-end collisions, and provoke perilous overtaking maneuvers. Furthermore, slow driving contributes to confusion and irregularities in traffic flow, both of which can serve as catalysts for accidents.

Analyzing the Data

A review of traffic accident data and studies reveals a nuanced picture. While speeding is a major factor in traffic accidents, the dangers of slow driving are also evident, particularly in specific contexts. For example, a study published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers suggests that those driving 10 m.p.h. slower than the prevailing speed are six times as likely to be involved in an accident.

Another aspect to consider is the difference in perception of risk. Speeding drivers are typically aware of their choice to break the law and may be more vigilant as a result. In contrast, slow drivers may not recognize the hazard they pose to others, leading to a lack of awareness and reaction to the traffic around them.

Balancing Speed and Safety

The data suggests that both extreme speeds and significantly slower speeds than the flow of traffic contribute to road safety risks. The key to enhancing road safety lies in promoting consistent and predictable driving behaviors. This includes adhering to posted speed limits, adjusting speed according to road conditions, and maintaining a speed consistent with the flow of traffic.


In conclusion, slow driving is not necessarily as dangerous as fast driving, but both behaviors are capable of presenting significant risks on the road. It is therefore crucial for all drivers to understand the importance of maintaining a safe and consistent speed, not just for their safety but for the safety of everyone around them.


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