Road Rules 101: Delay of five vehicles
RV- and boat-towing season is about to kick into high gear, and that means slow-moving vehicles on the road. Perspective reader Leslie N. writes:
"If I am driving the speed limit and five or more cars are behind me (with only a single lane in each direction), am I impeding traffic, according to the law? Or does impeding only occur if I'm driving below the speed limit? I understand that the best thing to do would be to pull over when it's safe and let them pass, but I wonder if I could be cited in the meantime."
Neither Washington nor Oregon law mentions the speed limit in reference to their requirement to pull over. In addition, Oregon law, unlike Washington law, doesn't identify a certain number of delayed vehicles. We're unaware of people in either state having been cited for impeding traffic when they're driving at the speed limit. (The only situation in which you legally can exceed the speed limit is when passing a vehicle; and even then, only for long enough to safely complete the pass.)
That said, driving with a string of cars behind you is nerve-racking. It can cause you to get rattled and other drivers to grow impatient and try to pass in unsafe conditions.
Our best advice: Drive not only within the speed limit, but also at a safe speed for your situation and conditions (which may be lower than the posted limit). When you see cars lining up behind you on a two-lane road, whatever your speed, look for opportunities to pull over and let them pass as soon as it's safe. But don't fret that you're a ticket waiting to happen and settle for a less-than-safe turnout that would require you to swerve, brake suddenly or risk dropping a tire into the ditch because you're trying to pull over on a narrow shoulder.
NOTE: While we're experts in loss prevention and home/auto safety, we don't consider ourselves experts in traffic laws or their enforcement. Information shared here is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you have legal concerns, we urge you to contact a law enforcement source or attorney in your community.
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