As part of an accelerating national trend, Georgia recently passed a much
stronger slowpoke law.
Driving too slow in the right lane was already technically illegal in The
Peach State, but
House Bill 459 made the law much tougher. Now, motorists who drive at "such a slow
speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic"
face a fine of up to $1,000 and a year in prison.
The law took effect on July 1. Law enforcement officials said they would
allow an unspecified "
grace period" before beginning enforcement.
Washington passed a so-called "slowpoke law" in 2011; Florida
and New Jersey followed two years later. There is a growing body of evidence
that speed variance, and not any one vehicle's actual speed, is the
real culprit in many traffic accidents.
Although the U.S. Uniform Vehicle code does require all slower-moving traffic
to stay as far to the right as possible, many states either do not have
slowpoke laws or basically overlook the laws that are supposedly in effect.
That's because such edicts are difficult to enforce and difficult
to prove in court. A speeding ticket, on the other hand, is easy to enforce
and easy to prove in Kern County, especially if the officer used a radar,
laser or some other advanced enforcement method.
VC 22400(a) does make it illegal to impede traffic by moving at a "slow speed,"
but the law is quite vague and carries a fine of only $35. The new minimum
speed law in Georgia may be a bit draconian, but it is very well-drafted
and should be easier to enforce.
If California is serious about reducing accidents and not just raising
money, the minimum speed law should be seriously reexamined.