It may seem strange to think that a vehicle that only travels at 15 or 20 mph could be involved in a serious crash, but the truth is that numerous slow-moving vehicles are involved in accidents with passenger cars each year. Tractors, flatbeds hauling wide cargo, and other heavy equipment frequently travel on highways among everyday vehicles—and in many cases, it’s not the slow vehicle who is at fault for the crash.
The biggest problems arising between slow-moving vehicles and smaller cars are:
- Rates of speed. There can be anywhere from a 5 to 40 mph speed differential between a passenger car and a slow-moving vehicle, making it difficult for cars to judge the closing distance as they approach the slower vehicle. Drivers often assume that vehicles on the same roadway are traveling at the same rate of speed, causing them to brake too late to avoid a collision with the slow-moving vehicle.
- Limited visibility. While most people who are operating a slow-moving vehicle will regularly check the traffic flow behind them, the operator is chiefly concerned with staying in control of the heavy vehicle and staying out of the lane of oncoming traffic. As a result, the operator may not be able to clearly see a driver following behind, especially if the driver is following closely or the slow-moving vehicle is exceptionally loud.
- Passing issues. Most of the collisions with slow-moving vehicles occur when the drivers following behind attempt to pass the slower vehicle. Drivers may misjudge the length and width of the slower vehicle, fail to leave a big enough gap to pass safely, or swerve during passing and force the slow-moving vehicle onto the shoulder. Some vehicles may collide with oncoming traffic as a result of an unsafe passing maneuver or even leave the roadway altogether, simply because the driver was frustrated at the slower vehicle ahead.
The best thing to remember as you follow a slow-moving vehicle is to be patient. Most operators understand that they are holding people up, and will likely pull off the road to allow built-up traffic to pass as soon as they can do so safely. If you know someone who is often irritated at slower vehicles on the roads, feel free to share this article on Facebook or via email to make sure they don’t take any unnecessary risks!