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Spike in road casualties from crashes caused by slow drivers

Driving too slow for the conditions can lead to tailgating. Credit: PA

The number of casualties from crashes caused by slow drivers soared by almost a third last year, figures show.

Data from the Department for Transport shows that 175 people were injured and two were killed in such accidents involving slow drivers on Britain’s roads in 2017.

This represents a 31 per cent increase in total casualties from the previous 12 months.

The figures take into account crashes when someone is driving too slow for the conditions or a slow moving vehicle was a contributory factor.

AA president Edmund King said too many motorway users hog the middle lane and drive “far below the speed limit”, which can lead to undertaking, tailgating, congestion and road rage.

Driving like a snail can be as dangerous as driving like a cheetah.

– Edmund King, AA president

Warning that “driving like a snail can be as dangerous as driving like a cheetah”, Mr King revealed he often sees motorists slow down and hesitate when joining a motorway rather than matching their speed to fit into the traffic flow.

“I was in a queue of five cars joining the M3 recently when the lead driver was driving at approximately 25 mph,” he added.

“It was incredibly dangerous.”

Middle-lane hogs are also a problem, the AA president has said. Credit: PA

A poll of 2,000 UK drivers commissioned by carmaker Hyundai earlier this year found “someone driving too slowly in front of you” is the seventh most common reason motorists swear when they are behind the wheel.

Minimum speeds are rare on UK roads, but do exist in some high-risk locations such as tunnels. These are displayed by a round blue sign with a white number.

Driving too slowly on any road can result in the motorist being penalised for careless driving, which normally carries a £100 fine and three points on a licence.

If a case goes to court the maximum penalty is £5,000, up to nine points on a licence and disqualification from driving.

Research by Australia’s Queensland University of Technology published last year which found that the risk of an accident can be increased by motorists who slow down when they use their mobile phone.

The study suggested that the rise was down to the congestion caused as a result, and frustrated drivers performing aggressive overtaking manoeuvres.

A DfT spokesman said: “Careless driving including driving too slowly is an offence and anyone caught faces prosecution.”

But Neil Greig, director of policy and research at motoring campaign organisation IAM Roadsmart, said someone else driving slowly was unlikely to be an acceptable excuse in the event of a crash.

“Slow drivers are just one extra hazard that any good driver must be able to deal with," he said.

“By using the key advanced driving skills of observation, anticipation and patience, anyone should be able to cope with a hesitant or tardy person on the road.

“If you run into the rear of someone then it’s most likely insurers will see it as your fault.”