While the hazards of speeding are well-known, with motorists regularly fined for exceeding safe speed limits, did you know in some states, you can be fined for driving too slowly? In January 2019, Western Australian police officers issued a Perth man with a fine for driving too slowly on the freeway. In a Twitter post that was met with approval from other social media users, they said the man was doing 28km/h under the speed limit.
But what’s so dangerous about driving slowly? Why fine motorists? And how slow is too slow anyway?
How slow should you go?
The rules around slow driving aren’t based on a minimum speed limit, but on a driver’s relationship to other motorists. According to rule number 125 of the Australian Road Rules 125 a driver must not unreasonably obstruct the path of another driver or pedestrian.
The rule then clarifies that a driver is not considered to be unreasonably obstructing another road user if the driver has merely stopped in traffic, or if the driver is simply driving slower than other motorists – unless the driver is going abnormally slow. Such an example is driving 20km/h in an 80km/h zone.
How slow you “should” go may well vary from situation to situation. The fined Perth driver was going a fair bit faster than 20km/h in an 80 zone. Police in Perth and Sydney have even fined drivers for going 90 in 100 zones because those drivers were in the right hand lane not overtaking.
However, in situations such as heavy rain or busy pedestrian activity it may be necessary to drive at a significantly slower pace than normal.
Why can you be fined?
After fining the Perth man, WA Police Traffic tweeted that “driving 28kmh under the speed limit on the freeway causes frustration which results in bad decisions which results in accidents”.
As road rule 125 makes clear, by driving too slowly you’re causing an obstruction to other drivers. If there’s no reason for such an unusual speed, the obstruction is deemed unreasonable.
Safe driving practices
If the speed limit is more than 80km/h, or more than 90km/h in Western Australia, you’re required to keep left except in special circumstances such as overtaking, turning right or making a U-turn.
Tailgating is illegal and drivers must leave a sufficient amount of space between their own vehicle and the one in front of them so, if necessary they can stop in time to avoid colliding with the vehicle.
Rules can vary state-by-state so it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the particular rules in your specific state or territory.
If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident – whether it involved a car, motorbike, bicycle or any other kind of road transport vehicle, you may be eligible for compensation. Shine Lawyers has lawyers who are experts in motor vehicle accident law and work on a 'no win, no fee' basis.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: February 19, 2021.