When it comes to driving, even some of the most law-abiding citizens are guilty of pushing the limits a little now and then. Americans are constantly in a hurry to get from point A to point B, and we often tend to cut corners on rules like coming to a complete stop at stop signs and staying at or below the speed limit. You may think, “I’m a pretty safe driver, and I don’t break the law,” but before you let yourself get too confident, check out this list of ten common traffic violations and see how many you’ve been guilty of.
Predictably, speeding is the most common moving violation committed by American drivers. The first known speeding ticket in America was given to a New York cab driver for hitting a shocking peak speed of 12 miles per hour. Speeding tickets today result from a much more extreme range of speeds – everything from hitting triple digits on the freeway to going just a tad too fast in a school zone.
Running a Red Light
While some drivers may be bold enough to plow through an intersection with reckless abandon even when a traffic light is clearly red, the bulk of red light violations come from drivers who cut it just a little too close when the light is “still yellow.” The conventional wisdom is that if you can safely come to a stop at a yellow light, you should do so. Gunning it to get through the light may be thrilling, but it can endanger other drivers or result in a ticket.
Running a Stop Sign
Running a stop sign can be a rather expensive driving violation. While it can be tempting to take a quick look in all directions and apply a rolling stop without making full use of the brake, it’s a better policy to take your time and come to a complete stop rather than cultivate a habit of carelessness at stop signs.
Improper Lane Changes
The most obvious form of an improper lane change is when the turn signal is not used. However, it is worth noting that signaling in the middle of a lane change also constitutes an unsafe or improper lane change and can result in a citation.
Failure to Yield
Yield signs are not suggestions. Drivers are expected to follow right-of-way rules at four-way stops, lane merges and even intersections with inoperative traffic lights. Not only do yield laws help to ensure that drivers remain courteous on the road, but also, they prevent chaos and promote safety.
It’s important to know your state’s laws when it comes to turns. Some states allow U-turns, and some do not. Observe the signage at traffic lights as well; some intersections prohibit right turns on red lights.
If you are irritated at the car in front of you that’s obstructing your view, slowing you down or cramping your style on a one-lane back road, think twice before you tailgate. On wet or icy roads or in the event of an unexpected obstacle like a leaping deer, a few yards of following distance can make the difference between a safe stop and a fender-bender.
Reckless driving is an umbrella term for many different types of aggressive or careless driving habits, from weaving in your lane while adjusting the thermostat to cutting someone off in traffic. Defining reckless driving can be somewhat subjective, so make sure to avoid this category entirely by staying focused and driving calmly at all times.
Failure to Stop for Pedestrians or School Buses
Your car can do a lot more damage to a person on foot than that pedestrian can do to your car. Make sure to watch for pedestrian crossing signs, crosswalks and school buses with their stop signs extended.
While non-moving violations tend to pose fewer safety risks, they can still be hard on your pocketbook if you’re ticketed. Be aware of “no parking” signs and meters that have run out of time.
So how many traffic infractions are you guilty of? Next time you hit the road, pay more attention to your driving and make our roads a safer place to be!
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