When driving on a multi-lane highway, the left lane is considered the “fast lane.” It is also considered the passing lane for motorists who get stuck behind another driver who may not be keeping up with the flow of traffic. While speeding is one of the top causes of car accidents driving too slowly is also dangerous, and it is illegal in all 50 states. It is important to understand the hazards associated with driving too slowly in the left lane.
Virginia is one of a growing number of states that are passing traffic laws designating the left lane for passing only. According to Virginia law, all motorists are prohibited from driving below the speed limit in the left lane, or driving in the left lane unless they are passing another vehicle. That means that once you have passed the slower-moving vehicle, you are expected to return to the right lane. If you continue to drive in the left lane, you may face penalties, including a ticket.
Why Do Some Motorists Drive Too Slowly in the Left Lane?
While it is a generally accepted fact that the left lane is reserved for passing, there are some motorists who position themselves in the left lane and refuse to move. Some drivers do this because the left lane is usually the least crowded lane, so they think they can comfortably maintain a safe driving speed. Other drivers position themselves in the left lane in an effort to get other drivers to slow down. Not only is this not the job of a regular motorist, but it can disrupt the flow of traffic.
How Does Slow Left Lane Driving Cause Car Accidents?
When you drive too slowly on a highway, it causes the other motorists in the vicinity to have to slow down, sometimes abruptly, and change lanes. In addition, research shows that driving slower than the other vehicles in the vicinity is more likely to cause an accident than speeding. In fact, if you are driving five miles per hour slower than the surrounding vehicles, you are more likely to cause an accident than if you are driving five miles per hour faster than the other drivers in the vicinity.
What Are the Benefits of Reserving the Left Lane for Passing Only?
There are some motorists who believe that they can stay in the left lane, despite the effect this may have on safety and the flow of traffic. However, there are a number of reasons why you should only use the left lane for passing, including the following:
- Avoid serious car accidents: According to the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey, lane changes are responsible for approximately 11 percent of all roadside car accidents. By staying out of the left lane unless you are passing another vehicle, this helps keep traffic running more smoothly, which results in fewer car accidents.
- Avoid tickets and fines: If you are driving too slowly in the left lane, you may get pulled over and ticketed for a traffic violation. In addition, you may have to pay a fine, which ranges in amount based on the state where you reside.
- It is safer: When you maintain a safe driving speed and only use the left lane for passing purposes, this makes the roads safer for you and the other motorists in the vicinity. A serious car accident is less likely to occur when fast drivers can maneuver past slower drivers without having to hit the brakes or change lanes quickly to avoid hitting a slow-moving vehicle in the left lane.
- Better gas mileage: When you maintain your speed and avoid weaving in and out of lanes, you may save money on gas. In addition to being more fuel-efficient, this is better for the environment.
- Avoid road rage: Whether you are the person driving too slowly in the left lane or you are stuck behind a slow-moving driver, this can cause motorists to become frustrated. In addition to avoiding the left lane unless you are passing, pay attention to other vehicles on the road. If the motorist behind you is tailgating, move to the right-most lane to let the person pass. Do not get angry or act out toward the other driver. This will only escalate the situation and increase the risk of a serious accident.
Who Is More Likely to Drive Too Slowly in the Left Lane?
Oftentimes, people may not realize that they are driving too slowly in the left lane, and they will immediately move over when they realize that a fast-moving vehicle is approaching behind them. However, there are some drivers who are more likely than others to drive too slowly. The following are examples of motorists who are more likely to drive below the speed limit:
- Distracted drivers: Many distracted driving accidents occur when motorists are talking or texting on the phone. Distracted drivers are also more likely to slow down while they are reading, sending a text, or engaging in some other type of distracted behavior. This can cause approaching motorists to slam on their brakes or veer into another lane in order to avoid hitting the vehicle.
- New, inexperienced drivers: Inexperienced drivers who are still learning how to navigate busy highways are also more likely to drive too slowly in the left lane. Oftentimes, they think they are doing the right thing by driving the speed limit, not realizing that the left lane is for passing vehicles who are driving at a faster speed. This can cause serious rear-end collisions if the newly licensed driver does not change lanes in time to avoid being hit by another vehicle who is approaching quickly from behind.
- Senior citizens: The aging process can affect reflexes, vision, and hearing, which can affect the person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. Reaction time is also slower, so older drivers may be more likely to be more cautious and drive more slowly, particularly when merging into traffic or changing lanes. If an older motorist is driving too slowly in the left lane of a busy highway, this can increase the risk of a rear-end accident or a side-swipe accident if they change lanes without making sure there are no other vehicles in the next lane.
- Rubberneckers: If there is an accident or something happening on or near the side of the road, it is common for motorists to slow down to see what is going on. Unfortunately, motorists who hit the brakes or drive too slowly in the left lane to get a glimpse can cause an accident. It is very important for motorists to maintain their speed so that they do not disrupt the flow of traffic and cause a collision.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Represent Clients Injured in Left-Lane Car Accidents
If you have a significant injury from a left-lane car accident, you are strongly urged to contact one of our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC at your earliest convenience. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online. We are located in Virginia Beach, and we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore, Virginia. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.