No one wants a traffic ticket. They’re expensive and could result in license revocation. Many drivers mistakenly believe that they are doing everything they can do prevent getting a ticket. The truth is that there are so many laws, each differing from state to state, that it’s quite challenging to obey them all. Police officers don’t always enforce every law, every time. However, they do try to keep people safe on the public roads. To avoid getting a ticket, drivers should avoid these 15 practices that almost always lead to a ticket:
1. Aggressive Driving
Aggressive driving, “displays of speed,” and other reckless behavior on the road is a surefire way for a driver to end up on the side of the road with a police officer. Drivers should take their emotions out on other drivers. While not everyone drives perfectly, and things like traffic jams are often part of a daily commute, drivers should focus on their own driving habits and behaviors. Focusing on others’ behaviors won’t change the traffic and won’t get drivers to their destinations any sooner.
2. Pay Attention To Bicyclists
Bicyclists have the right to share the road with drivers. Often times, they must obey the same or similar laws as other vehicles. In some states, helmets and protective gear are required. For vehicles, some states may give preferential treatment to bicyclists. If a vehicle hits one, the driver of the vehicle could be charged as though he hit a pedestrian.
3. Slow Down and Drive Friendly
Slowing down and driving friendly isn’t just common courtesy. It might make the difference between getting a ticket and not getting one. While speed limits post the official speed at which a driver may drive, weather conditions might create special situations that warrant a traffic ticket for unsafe driving. Driving in a manner that puts others in danger, or that threatens the safety of pedestrians on the road may also result in a ticket.
4. Don’t Drink and Drive
Every state has DUI or DWI laws. Some have both. Drinking alcohol and driving is strictly limited and penalties can be extremely harsh. This is especially true if a pedestrian is injured or killed in a DUI/DWI collision. It’s not uncommon for states to enact stiff penalties for even first offenses. Second offenses might include even higher penalties up to and including revocation of a license.
5. Pay Close Attention To Traffic Signs
Running a red light, rolling through a stop sign, or ignoring a “no parking” sign are all grounds for a ticket. It’s hard to fight these kinds of tickets if the traffic light is equipped with a camera or if the cop can prove that that the driver is at fault. Points on licenses add up quickly for these types of traffic violations which also increases insurance premiums.
6. Keep Right
Tickets can be issued if drivers cause an accident due to failure to keep right. This applies on highways and multi-lane roads. The left-most lanes are usually designated as passing lanes with the far right lanes as driving lanes. While most drivers use passing lanes as driving lanes, they’re not supposed to.
7. Rest During Long Trips
When driver’s are tired, they make mistakes on the road. The best way to avoid weaving in and out of lanes, inconsistent speed, and drifting is to rest regularly. Drivers who must commute late at night, work overnight shifts, or drive professionally (i.e. truck drivers) are especially at risk for tickets related to unsafe driving due to being tired. To prevent accidents due to tiredness, drivers should not drive between 12AM and 6AM, rest 15 to 20 minutes when they do stop, and make a point to stop every two hours to rest.
8. Learn How To Pass Safely
When passing on the highway or even two-lane roads, drivers should assess their ability to move into the left lane, pass at a safe speed, and then return to the right lane. This needs to happen quickly but safely. Drivers should not pass another vehicle if they cannot do so without endangering the lives of the passengers in their own vehicle or anyone else on the road.
9. Obey Seat Belt and Helmet Laws
Drivers must obey all seat belt and helmet laws when operating vehicles. Tickets that arise from safety violations can be stiff. In some states, like Texas, fines range from $25 to $50. However, other states, like Washington, enforce much heavier penalties up to $124 for the first offense.
10. Watch Out For School Buses and Pedestrians
School buses always have the right of way when they are stopped and letting children off. Driving around a school bus will often result in a serious penalty, points on the driver’s license, and possible suspension of driving privileges.
11. Obey Parking Restrictions Downtown
Many large cities impose heavy penalties for parking in loading zones or designated “no parking” areas. These tickets may also involve locking the driver’s tires and a tow at the owner’s expense for first-time offenses. On top of the ticket, the owner must retrieve his vehicle from the impound.
12. Obey Seasonal Parking Laws and Ordinances
Northeastern states often impose seasonal parking laws, like “odd/even” parking, because snow plows must clear roads for drivers. These laws and ordinances assign parking rules based on the day of the week. For example, the laws may require drivers to park on the side of the street with even-numbered houses during winter months so that the city can clear the roads overnight. Breaking the law often results in a small ticket, but that ticket can become expensive if ignored. Even though it’s a parking ticket, some states treat them as traffic tickets and may increase the fine with subsequent violations.
13. Slow Down In Work Zones
Work zones have special speed limits and rules. If a driver breaks them, fines can be doubled. To avoid getting a ticket in a work zone, the easiest thing a driver can do is slow down and drive on the opposite shoulder of the road where workers are working. Once clear of the construction zone, drivers may resume normal speeds.
14. Take Driver Safety Courses
Taking a driver’s safety course enables a driver to learn more about defensive driving habits. Improved driving techniques and a heightened awareness of what constitutes safe driving may lead to reduced tickets and increased compliance with the law.
15. Avoid Unnecessary Distractions While Driving
One of the easiest ways that drivers can avoid a ticket is to avoid any distractions during driving. Drivers should avoid playing with the radio, talking on their cell phone, sending text messages, or paying attention to other passengers in the back seat.
Avoiding traffic tickets isn’t difficult for the most part. While it’s difficult to keep track of all of the laws on the books in every state, and even in a driver’s home state, most of the traffic laws are rooted in common sense. If it seems unsafe, it’s probably worthy of a traffic ticket.