The Things You’re Doing That Will Get You a Speeding Ticket (Besides Speeding)
The Things You’re Doing That Will Get You a Speeding Ticket (Besides Speeding)
Here's a puzzler: Everyone's going the same speed, yet you're the one that got pulled over. Here's what you're doing wrong, and how to avoid trouble the next time you're on the road.
BY LAUREN CAHN
There are a handful of things that a cop can pull you over for—which is when you better know the best way to talk yourself out of a ticket. You've likely committed a moving violation, which means you could end up with points on your license, an increase in your rates, or depending on your recent behavior, a license suspension, warns insurance advisor, Bradley Hamburger.
According to Edmunds.com, which conducted a poll of three separate police agencies, the number one most common of moving violations is speeding. In fact, a whopping 34 million speeding tickets are handed out each year in this country. After speeding, here are the other most common:
running a stop sign or red light
failing to yield (when another car has the right of way)
failing to signal (turns or lane changes)
failing to drive within a single lane
driving on the shoulder
failing to stop for a pedestrian on a crosswalk
failing to stop for a school bus when its stop lights/signs are displayed.
failing to secure a load
making illegal use of a carpool lane
failing to wear a seat belt
using illegal window tints
driving without a license or outside the conditions of one's license
driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
unsafe driving (which in some states includes using a cell phone and other forms of distracted driving)
fleeing the scene of an accident
While getting pulled over for any reason is no laughing matter, these court cases have names that will make you laugh all the way to traffic court.
The unofficial—but still valid—reason you got pulled over
ALESSANDRO COLLE/SHUTTERSTOCKAlthough the number one reason police officers cite for issuing tickets is moving violations, according to Hamburger, it's common practice for police officers to use traffic stops as a way of investigating whether another, more serious violation may be occurring.
For example, a car that is weaving across lanes may also be a car driven by a distracted driver or a drunk driver, Hamburger explains. A car that is speeding may be fleeing an accident that a police officer has already been notified by radio. Here are the things that really catch a traffic cop's eye.
And here are safe driving tips everyone should know to avoid an accident.
Driving a few miles an hour over the speed limit isn't usually going to get you pulled over, says Harold Hilliard, retired Plano, Texas police officer, unless you're driving a beater. Why? Hillard says beaters are more likely to have broken or burned out taillights or headlights, broken windshields, or expired license plate tags. Some of these aren't always visible at first sight, but a cop will be able to spot the violations in a traffic stop.
Make sure you're not guilty of any of these outdated tips for car safety maintenance.
"If you're driving a Bugatti even slightly over the speed limit, you might get pulled over," says Hamburger, "just because in addition to getting to write out a speeding ticket, the police officer now has the opportunity to check out your awesome car." If your slick ride stands out in a sea of ordinary cars that are speeding down the highway, you can attract a police officer's attention in both positive and negative ways.
If you can afford that car, you might be interested in one of these outrageous luxury resorts.
Yep, there are makes and models that attract more attention and seem to get singled out for a traffic stop. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety these vehicles are the most likely to get pulled over (although no police officer we spoke to could explain exactly why):
Mercedes CLK63 AMG
Mercedes CLS AMG
If you're wondering why your ticketing officer touched your car's tail light on his way to your window, we've got the scoop.
Drive vintage retro cars like these? You could be a cop magnet for another reason: Scientific studies like this one suggest the human eye is drawn to contrast. If seven cars are driving over the speed limit on a stretch of highway, the one most likely to be picked out by a traffic cop is the one that looks different. It could be an unusual color—although it doesn't have to be red, according to retired Police Captain Michael Palardy of Millburn, NJ, contrary to popular belief. It could be a particularly noteworthy vanity plate ("1 EM DRNK" perhaps?) or it could be a Grateful Dead bumper sticker.
Our experts agree: Don't violate traffic rules during rush hour. More cars on the road mean more police officers issuing tickets. Cops know when they're most likely to catch bad behavior, and the commute hours—along with holiday weekends—can encourage people to bend and break laws.
Maybe instead you'd like to try commuting to work by bike—lower risk of a ticket, and it reduces stress.
Tailgating. Failing to yield. Buzzing through a crosswalk with people waiting to cross. Speeding down a residential street. These things are against the law and they reveal that the driver is a bona fide jerk. Cops love pulling over jerks—and then there's the fact that poor driving etiquette is tied to other potential driving violations, including:
driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
unsafe driving, including distracted driving and road rage
not wearing a seatbelt
DWR entices a traffic cop with the possibility of writing a two-for-one ticket: Don't do it. Need to brush up on driving etiquette? Here's a primer.
It's sad but true, kids: New drivers are cop catnip, according to Hamburger. "Being new to the road and lacking in experience, young drivers will provide cops with the opportunity for a teaching moment, and cops will be happy to point out to the youngsters that they'll be held responsible for their driving choices."
In other words, young drivers, you're being watched!
More bad news for the young: their sex lives aren't all they're cracked up to be.
The most obvious "tell" that you're driving while texting is looking down. Especially if you're breaking any other traffic laws while driving with your head down, you're begging to be stopped—whether for distracted/unsafe driving or for the other traffic violations you may be committing (such as stopping too long at stop signs and red lights, and weaving in and out of your lane, according to Hamburger).
Here are the signs you might be addicted to your cell phone.
Just because you got pulled over doesn't mean that you're going to wind up with a ticket, says Hamburger. "As soon as you realize you've caught a traffic cop's attention, you're going to want to slow down, stay calm, and think polite thoughts because there's a right way to talk to a policeman, and a wrong way. The right way is to be unfailingly polite. The wrong way is any other way." (In fact, cultivating politeness can literally be life-changing.)
A few rules of thumb:
Don't get out of your car. No matter how long it takes the officer to make his way to your car, just stay put—because whatever you might be feeling when you're stopped by a cop, you should assume the cop is concerned for his own safety. Being a law enforcement officer is a dangerous job. "Even with a weapon, every traffic stop a police officer makes could be the last," Hamburger explains.
Follow instructions to the letter. This shows you're making an effort cooperate, and it goes a long way to alleviating the police officer's own worries concerning the stop.
Don't confess. Anything you say can be used against you in traffic court. Instead, as politely as possible, talk about how safe of a driver you generally are and how you understand that driving safely is of critical importance. "You have 30 seconds to convey that you're a safe-driving, law-abiding citizen," so use it wisely, Hamburger emphasizes. If whatever you did had a safety reason attached to it, let the officer know.
Ask politely to be released with just a warning. It can't hurt as long as you don't flirt or otherwise act smarmy. The key phrase here is "ask politely."