10 Commandments for Avoiding Traffic Tickets

The only way to completely avoid traffic tickets is to not drive a vehicle. Unfortunately for most of us, this is not an option. These Ten Commandments will help you avoid the most common reasons traffic tickets are given.

Learn and Know the Rules

Knowing the rules of the road is probably the most important step you can take in avoiding traffic tickets. If it has been awhile since you passed your driving test, take time every few years to review the manual and check to see if any laws have been updated. Be aware of any signage that indicates speed or special conditions such as workers being present which can change the conditions under which tickets can be issued.

Go Defense!

Driving defensively can help you avoid incidents which would cause you to be issued a ticket. For example in most states rear-ending another vehicle is the fault of the driver who hits the vehicle in front of them, even if that vehicle stops suddenly. Driving defensively will allow you to be more aware of this type of situation so an incident can be avoided.

Watch Other Drivers

You can get clues about upcoming traffic conditions or police monitoring by watching the oncoming vehicles. Many drivers will flash their lights if there is a policeperson or accident ahead. It is probably important to note in some states it may be illegal to flash headlights to warn motorist of a policeperson using a radar gun to catch speeders. The drivers that are driving in the same direction as you are also a good barometer of potential speed traps, especially truckers. Truckers will often radio one another if there is a cop on the horizon and other motorists may have laser detectors in their cars. If you suddenly see truckers or other motorists slowing for no apparent reason, follow their lead for at least a few miles.

Say Cheese!

Traffic cameras are popping up everywhere. They are often at intersections and can catch people speeding or running lights. Be aware of where the cameras in your community are located so that you do not receive a ticket in the mail one day.

Here’s Your Sign

Road signs may be the only indication that the rules for driving are about to change. School zones, hospitals, residential neighborhoods, and construction sites all have signs that will tell you what the new rules for the area you are entering are going to be. Saying you didn’t notice the sign will not excuse you from the new rule. Be sure to always pay attention to any signs in order to avoid being ticketed for breaking the law associated with the sign.

Car Maintenance

If something is wrong with your car, such as a taillight that is broken or a headlight bulb that is blown, a police officer can pull you over and issue a ticket. While most will simply offer a warning or make sure you are aware of the malfunction, they can use this time to assess other aspects of your vehicle and your driving ability which may provide further opportunities for a traffic ticket.

Park Carefully

Parking in a congested area can be quite challenging, especially for those who are in a hurry. Because of this, many people make mistakes when choosing their parking places which result in a traffic ticket. Some of the most common mistakes are carefully reading the parking meter to learn when it is useable, not noticing temporary signs that have been placed for specific times of the day or year, or parking improperly in a school zone.

Be Prepared

If you get pulled over for a minor violation, such as a broken blinker, you might be able to talk your way out of a ticket if you insist you were unaware of the situation. However, if you are unable to provide proof of registration and insurance the police officer will almost certainly ticket you for both issues. Always keep a copy of your insurance card in your car as well as your registration and any other paperwork required by your state.

Be Polite!

Finally, the most important commandment you should follow even if all of the other commandments have failed to help you avoid a traffic ticket; be polite to the police officer. He or she is doing their job and is required to pull people over who they observe breaking the law. While it may be inconvenient for you, it is likely just as unpleasant for them. If you are rude and disrespectful they are much less likely to be lenient and you will probably get the ticket. By being polite and apologetic you show respect for their position and regret for your actions and they might just give you another chance.

Fight!

Remember that if you do get a ticket, it is still possible to get out of it by fighting it in court. Request a court date and be sure to show up. Often the officer will not have time to do so and you will win by default. If he or she is in court be prepared to offer your version of events and why the ticket was unjust.

If all of your efforts to avoid a traffic ticket fail, hope for better luck the next time you are driving and go ahead and pay your ticket. Failing to pay the fine can lead to additional tickets with larger fines in the future.

References
City of Minneapolis
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program

Image Credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sergemelki/4664478129/

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