Settling a Debate About Impeding Traffic
I've probably said this before, but when I applied the same tolerance under the speed limit as I did for those driving over the speed limit and factored in the advisory signs for speed I seldom found a driver going slower. Having sat and considered for a minute, I cannot recall writing a ticket for slow driving during my traffic enforcement career.
I do remember stopping the odd driver and suggesting that if they felt it was necessary to drive at a slower speed and they started leading a parade, they should pull over, stop and let everyone go by. That courtesy might also be a lifesaver as the probability of an unsafe pass by an impatient follower can be quite high.
B.C.'s slow driving law forbids driving at a speed that impedes the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, unless a reduced speed is necessary for safety.
What is reasonable? Ultimately that would be decided by the justice in traffic court but I can think of many reasons for driving at reduced speed:
- A learner driver that is not yet confident in the situation
- A heavy commercial vehicle traveling downgrade
- Approaching and passing a temporary hazard
- Driving at night
- Poor weather conditions
- Following an erratic driver
Now we have to consider the variability of that decision. What I consider reasonable might differ from you, also for many reasons. It's not a simple as speeding where merely driving at a speed over the limit is an offence.
An interesting aside here is the Japanese koreisha mark that is displayed by senior drivers. It is optional at age 70 and mandatory for those 75 and older to indicate that their age could affect their ability to drive. I wonder if respect for seniors translates to some accommodation being granted to these people?
When there are multiple lanes of travel, slower drivers must use the right hand lanes, even if they are traveling at the speed limit.
Here's a situation where honking at another driver is part of the law. Except when passing on the right is permitted, if an overtaking driver sounds their horn, you are required to give way to the right and allow them to pass.
What we've discussed so far applies to all highways whether they have single or multiple lanes for a direction of travel. B.C.'s current law requires slower drivers to move out of the left lane when overtaken by faster traffic. This applies even when the slower driver is traveling at the speed limit.
That said, slower drivers are NOT totally banned from the left lanes. They may use them at lower speeds if they are:
- Passing someone else in the right lane
- Allowing someone to merge onto the highway
- Preparing to turn left
- Following the requirements of the Slow Down, Move Over rules
So, to the gentleman that asked me to settle a debate over whether a driver could receive a ticket for impeding traffic even if they were going the speed limit on a single lane highway I would have to answer that it would be very unlikely, but possible if they failed to give way when honked at. That happens less than 80 times a year in our province.
Unfortunately that is true
Part of the province I live in we still have many K's of two lane traffic. And it bothers me greatly that enforcement is not done about drivers impeding traffic. How often did you pull a person over and advise them to slow down without writing a ticket regardless of the speed?
We have two laned sections posted at 90 - 100K and have to put up with drivers going at 50 - 70K on clear sunny days. Actually I have run into more drivers way below the speed limit during the summer than I have in the winter. Tourist! Often wonder what they would think if I went to their city drove 40K under the speed limit then suddenly stopped jumped out and started snapping picture? What would the cop do? I am quite sure there is not a cop around that if I was driving at 10 or 20K on a city street beside another driver doing the same that I would not be pulled over and ticketed. So what is the difference?
I think what it really comes down to is the amount of effort that one has to put into the ticket. There is probably more people that would contest a slow driving ticket than there is a speeding ticket. And even the judge is biased here. As long as the cop shows up you will never win a speeding ticket in Kangaroo Court (Traffic Court) you have to appeal to a higher court where you have a good chance of winning. Never lost.
In my opinion the safest speed is what the majority of traffic is travelling at.
Driving Slowly is More Dangerous
As a professional driver, I honestly think driving slower is more dangerous than driving faster. I can personally attest to literally seeing red and doing highly irrational and unsafe things when following someone going 5-10 under the speed limit, as opposed to someone going 5-10 over.
I understand your stance as a former LEO, but come on. I've seen far more dangerous and erratic behavior by people desperate to pass some old fogie who is too ignorant/oblivious to get out of the way and pull over than the opposite.
Concerns and comments.
What comes to my mind, reading this, is whereabouts in the province were you unable to find these slow drivers? And I'm not thinking in terms of those who follow the limit and slow (often unnecessarily) for even the slightest of curves on the highway. I'm thinking of those RV drivers in their Winnebagos and similarly overloaded/underpowered rigs who deliberately ignore traffic backed up behind them, even when there are black and white signs ordering them to use the pullouts.
One of the worst places for this is Highway 4 across the Island to Tofino/Ucluelet. Cops could be issuing dozens of tickets a day to these idiots, but it never happens. And I've seen this type of deliberate ignorance (in the literal sense) in the Interior, the Kootenays, and beyond.
So if they don't get honked at, but crawl along at an absurdly low speed for conditions, annoying the heck out of everyone behind them, you would ignore this? Heh heh.
Oddly enough, my experience with traffic court has been quite different. I've won three out of four times, in fact. Probably it helps that on two of those occasions I was actually innocent. Mind you, I've never fought a ticket when I know I was fairly dealt with by the cop, in the circumstances.
From a Newsletter Reader
I agree with your comments about the Law being amended to remove the duty of the driver if they are traveling at the speed limit. This section of the MVA (151.1) contradicts several other sections of the Act and actually is basically giving permission to disobey some other sections of the MVA. As a driver utilizing the roadway and obeying all rules, I'm entitled to use either lane and if I'm traveling at the posted speed limit why should I move over to allow other drivers to drive at a speed greater than the speed limit when the Law (Sec 146 MVA) specifically states that a person must not travel faster than the indicated posted speed.
In another section the Act Sec158 (b) allows for drivers to pass on the right "when on a laned roadway there is one or more than one unobstructed lane on the side of the roadway on which the driver is permitted to drive", so those drivers that continually decide to exceed the posted speed limit can certainly pass on the right without interfering with the person in the left lane who by the way is obeying the rules of the road. Further to this, Sec 151.1 could also contradict Sec 161 (Disobey A Traffic Device) to wit a Speed sign as it clearly states "a traffic control device indicating that a certain vehicle movement is prohibited, a person must not drive a vehicle in a movement prohibited by the sign" - disobeying the posted speed sign (which clearly states MAX Speed) for that roadway is a contravention of a Traffic Control Device.
Although the rules do state that you must drive in the right-hand lane with exceptions, brings up a totally other debate as it states "if the vehicle is traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic, then it must drive in the right lane. What constitutes NORMAL speed, keeping in mind that the Law states NO ONE should be traveling faster than the posted speed limit. So if normal speed is greater than 80 km/h. the Law will allow the disobedience of another section of this Act, and once again the law-abiding citizen gets taken to task. I JUST DONT GET IT !!!!!
I'm aware that the topic has been discussed by some judicial groups and some are of the same opinion that the driver who fails to move over is being unfairly penalized when the drivers who deliberately choose to disobey a multitude of laws get a free pass due to this one section. I would certainly not charge a person who does not move over, especially if they are traveling at the posted speed limit.
Disobey a multitude of laws
Why is it if I am travelling over the speed limit I am breaking a multitude of laws when you travelling in the left lane and failing to move over are only disobeying one unfair law?
Are we not guilty of both breaking one law?
There is no contradiction, here.
The normal speed of traffic is what it is, at the time and under the conditions that prevail; oftentimes on our highways, the average speed on the highway is in excess of the limit - and if it's a multi-lane highway then clearly the intent is to move more traffic, more efficiently.
So OBVIOUSLY the intelligent, practical, and legally required behaviour of all drivers is to move over when you're not passing. Because traffic laws are designed BOTH to maintain safety, AND traffic flow.
Why is this such a difficult concept for some people? Why do you expect stringent adherence only to certain rules, instead of all of them?
I'd say that if people are constantly doing stupid and irrational things around certain drivers, it isn't arbitrarily the fault of the rest of the driving public that any individual cannot maintain a reasonable expected speed on a given section of road. Otherwise the RCMP would have a record breaking year ticketing every commuter going 10 over the speed limit (95% of drivers, I'm sure you'll agree), the fact on the ground is that drivers assume a reasonable speed for conditions regardless of what the speed limit, or speed recommendations signs say, especially when they know the road inside and out.
Perhaps if there was a sort of public complaints system where if there were dozens of complaints about any given driver they could be made aware of their shortcomings?
Legally, sure I understand what you're saying and if there were 100x the patrol cars out on the highways your point would stand, but I rarely see enforcement. I just see drivers trying to defuse their growing road rage by doing what they deem necessary, blame the root, not the stem.
Damned if I do...
Daily on Hammond Bay Road, Nanaimo, before 5 pm, I travel through a school zone. Nobody slows down. Last week a pick-up truck roared by me at about 80 kph (passed me in the school zone). I really want to slow down and obey the law, but even if I'm travelling 45 in a 30 zone, the drivers behind me get all antsy. I'm not suggesting I would get a ticket for driving safely in a school zone, but what if I get ticketed for speeding? If I obey the zone, I impede traffic, if I go with the flow, I'm speeding. Seems to be a lose-lose situation.
Unless there are 'summer school' signs added, then it doesn't matter what time of day it is, as it won't be in effect again until September 3rd. Which school is this?
I'm not familiar with that part of Nanaimo, but it's evident from a Google Map search that Hammond Bay Road is the main arterial in that area. So as long as the regular speed limit is 50 km/h then it's reasonable that other drivers expect you to drive around that speed, when conditions are ideal.
If others do still pass dangerously, that's not something you can control.