Image Source: Einar Jørgen Haraldseid
Being pulled over can be frustrating, scary, and inconvenient. You don’t wake up hoping to see flashing lights in your rearview during the daily commute. So how can you avoid the attention of your friendly neighborhood highway patrolman? Start by steering clear of these top five violations.
Speed violations are considered the number one reason for being pulled over by drivers and police officers alike. And it’s no wonder: an estimated 20% of all drivers will be cited for driving over the speed limit this year. On average, 112,000 speeding tickets are issued every day, adding up to a whopping 41,000,000 citations every year.
Speeding is one of the easiest traffic violations to see and cracking down on speed demons makes a noticeable difference in road safety. Studies suggest that for every 100 more speeding citations given in a month in a single county, the average number of car accidents decreases by 14.3. It’s easy to get going pretty fast in hopes of getting to work on time or passing the jerk who’s driving way under 65mph, but remember that staying within speed restrictions is the easiest way to prevent a traffic citation or an accident.
Distractions on the road come in many forms: your least favorite song coming on the radio, a backseat full of rowdy kids, or passing an accident. The number of people injured in distracted driving accidents has steadily increased since 2011. According to Cristall Kenneth, a firm of ICBC lawyers in Vancouver, the most common injuries are:
- brain injuries
- spinal damage
- broken bones
Driving safely should be your first priority. Letting your front-seat passenger control the music, avoiding eating while driving, and establishing rules for passengers to ensure that you can pay adequate attention to the road can keep you safe (and free of traffic citations).
Illegal Phone Use
The most common kind of distracted driving is driving while using a cell phone. While no state bans all cell phone use by drivers, 13 states, DC, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands prohibit hand-held cell phone use. All but five states prohibit text messaging while behind the wheel. Most cell phone laws are primary enforcement laws, meaning an officer may cite you for illegal cell phone use even if you haven’t violated any other traffic laws. (Information: Governors Highway Safety Association)
Cell phone use behind the wheel can have serious consequences. Answering the average text message takes five seconds, which, when you’re driving at 55 mph, is enough time to travel the length of a football field. It gives you plenty of space to run off the road or collide with another vehicle. It’s important to know and follow the cell phone laws in your current state and any states you visit frequently, but you should also exercise common sense. Postpone distracting or intense phone calls until after you’ve reached your destination, even if you’re using a handheld device.
Aggressive or reckless driving offenses account for more than 30% of all annual traffic violations. The most common citations are for:
- failure to yield right of way – 11.4%
- failure to obey traffic signs – 7.4%
- improper turns – 6.6%
- improper passing – 4.1%
- improper following – 1.7%
- improper lane changes – 1.5%
- driving on a sidewalk, median, or shoulder – 1.4%
You may think tailgating the minivan in front of you will convince the driver to follow the posted speed limit, but it’s more likely to convince the passing highway patrolman to give you a citation for improper following.
Equipment violation tickets can be a hassle—they add mandatory court attendance and fees to the cost of regular maintenance. To avoid these citations, check your vehicle for these common violations:
- expired registration
- nonfunctional headlights or taillights
- illegal glass tinting
- missing side mirrors
- no windshield wipers
- a broken windshield
These unsafe conditions can land you with a “fix-it” ticket, which will incur a dismissal fee along with the cost of making the needed repairs. It’s more efficient (and cheaper) to stay on top of vehicle upkeep.
Avoiding these common pitfalls can keep you under traffic officers’ radar while making your daily drives that much safer.
This article is from Savannah Coulsen, a freelance writer. She lives in Long Beach. Savannah loves to read and write and she hopes to write a novel someday. Savannah also loves learning and is a self-proclaimed health guru.