Move Over or Get Pulled Over: Indiana’s New “Slow Poke” Laws

Everyone knows that driving too fast causes car accidents, but what about driving too slow? According to the “Solomon Curve” the rate of speed you travel at is not what matters, but rather the deviation from the average speed of those traveling around you and the speed you are traveling at is. The “Solomon Curve” illustrates that those traveling closest to the average speed of drivers around them are at the lowest risk of being involved in an accident. What is shocking, however, is driving slower than average increases your risk of being involved in an accident more than driving faster than average. This may be what’s causing states to pass what are being called “slow poke” laws requiring slow drivers to move out of the “fast lane” or left lane.

Of course there are other reasons to force slow drivers to move out of the fast lane such as driver frustration (“road rage”) and traffic flow. Everyone has been stuck behind an obnoxiously slow moving vehicle that refuses to get over; if you haven’t you probably are that vehicle. Not only does it incite Road Rage, which causes a significant amount of accidents, it also holds up the flow of traffic, and in some circumstances can lead to a traffic jam or backup.

Indiana has recently become one of the newest states to pass “Slow Poke” laws and these laws will come into effect on Wednesday July 1, 2015. These laws are designed to alleviate the risk, frustration, and traffic flow issues cause by unreasonably slow drivers. But what exactly do these laws say? Well lucky for you this personal injury lawyer is here to help clear that issue up.

The New “Slow Poke” Laws

The new “Slow Poke” laws are contained in Ind. Code § 9-21-5-7 through 9-21-5-9. The sections vary as to what types of roads they cover, from 2 land standard roads to highways. A brief description of what each individual section says and its effects are below.

Ind. Code § 9-21-5-7: Slow Poke Laws for Simple Two Lane Roads

This section concerns simple two lane roads, with each lane going in opposite direction. It provides that a person commits a Class C infraction when they travel at a speed that impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, unless the reduced speed is necessary (bad weather) or in compliance with the law (school/construction zone). It goes on to describe what “impeding the normal and reasonable movement of traffic” means by stating that if you are driving on a road with no more than one lane of traffic in each direction at a speed so slow that 3 or more vehicle are blocked and cannot pass you must pull over and yield the right-of-way. If you fail to do so you commit a Class C infraction.

So, if you are on a one lane road and travelling slowly you must yield the right of way if: (1) There are at least 3 cars behind you, and (2) they cannot pass to your left. As stated above if driving conditions are bad or you are in a slow speed zone this section does not apply.

Ind. Code 9-21-5-8: Speed Minimums

This section isn’t new, but it does have something to do with these laws. It allows the state’s department of transportation to determine “speed minimums” for highways and post them accordingly.

Ind. Code § 9-21-5-8.5: Low Speed Vehicles on Highways

This section makes a Class C infraction to operate “low speed” vehicle, such as a moped, on a highway that has a speed limit in excess of 35 miles per hour.

Ind. Code § 9-21-5-9: Slow Poke Laws for 4 Land Roads and Highways

This is the section that will provide the most change and likely the one you’ve previously heard about as it got the most media attention. This section provides that a vehicle traveling at a speed less than the Speed Limit shall travel in the right lanes. It goes on to state that a person traveling in the left lane must move over for oncoming vehicles which it knows or should know is overtaking it. This section does not apply when there is (1) A traffic jam, (2) Inclement Weather, (3) The law requires going slower (school/construction zone) (4) when exiting a roadway to the left, or (5) when paying a toll. It also doesn’t apply to (1) emergency vehicles or (2) highway maintenance vehicles.

So really, what this law says is that if you aren’t going the speed limit, stay in the right lane and even if you are going the speed limit, if someone is about to pass you, get over.

Conclusion

These laws seem fair and I hope this has helped you understand what exactly they do. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  1. If you are driving slowly, stay in the left lane.
  2. If you are on a one lane road and you are holding up more than 3 cars that cannot pass you, move to the shoulder and let them pass.
  3. If you are on a highway and traveling at or above the speed limit in the left lane, but someone is coming up fast behind you, move over.

As long as you do these things, which most courteous drivers do anyway, you’ll be fine.

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