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How to Avoid the Nine Most Commonly Broken Driving Laws

I've been driving for many years now and love to pass on tips and advice that will help people be better, safer drivers.

The nine most commonly broken traffic laws

The nine most commonly broken traffic laws

No One Likes Being Pulled Over

Drivers break the law every day. They make wide turns, follow the driver in front of them too closely, talk on their cell phone, run red lights, and don't use their turn signal. Maybe they don't stop for school buses or emergency vehicles. Most people get away with these small mistakes, but you don't want to be one of the unlucky people who gets caught. Here's how to avoid common mistakes and not get pulled over.

The Most Common Traffic Violations

Even though it feels like you can get away with bending the rules a little, there are some laws that you really should follow. If you get caught, the chances are pretty high that you will get a ticket. Here are the nine most commonly violated driving rules, pulled from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. These are statistics for actual traffic citations. These people actually received tickets for breaking these laws.

  1. Speeding
  2. Getting caught by a red light camera
  3. Toll violation
  4. Careless driving
  5. Violation of traffic control device
  6. Driving without a license
  7. Failing to stop at a stop sign
  8. Running a red light
  9. Failing to yield the right of way

The statistics in your state will vary, but based on my driving experience, most of the statistics for any other area in the world as well will probably be close to these. If you avoid these nine things, you will be able to save some money by not having to pay for any tickets, court costs, and high insurance rates. You will also avoid getting into a car accident and will be a much safer driver on the road, which will benefit not only you but also your passengers and your fellow motorists.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports that speeding was the most common infraction in 2011

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports that speeding was the most common infraction in 2011

1. Obey the Posted Speed Limit

The number one law, far and above all the other moving violation laws, the one that more people break than any other, as you might have guessed, is speeding. 45% of the traffic tickets given in Florida last year were for not obeying the speed limit.

People drive above the posted speed limit sign because they are in a hurry to get to where they are going. Maybe they are running late. Or maybe they feel like they are better than average drivers who can drive faster and still maintain control of their vehicles.

Of course, you can also get this ticket for driving too slow. These people may not be sure where they are going, and drive slowly or stop suddenly as they look for a particular street. Or they may be enjoying a leisurely Sunday drive, and getting in the way of drivers who would prefer to drive much faster.

Not following the posted speed limit is the #1 commonly broken traffic law

Not following the posted speed limit is the #1 commonly broken traffic law

2. Watch for Red Light Cameras

The red light cameras are diligently watching and waiting for people to run the red light. Drivers who run the red light will be photographed, and a ticket will be put in the mail to the registered car owner. Unlike all of the other ways to get tickets listed on this page, running a red light at a location that has a camera is guaranteed to get you a ticket. There is very little chance you will get away with breaking this law. As a result, even though there aren't red light cameras at every intersection, at 11%, the second most common traffic ticket was for people who got caught by the red light camera.

3. Pay the Tolls

Ohio does not have many toll roads, but in Florida, not paying the tolls was the number three reason for getting a ticket. In fact, 10% of the tickets given in the state were for toll violations.

4. Drive Carefully

Careless driving citations were the fourth most common at 9%. Careless driving is driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons on the road. Careless and reckless driving can not only result in a ticket you have to pay but can also add points to your license. If you have enough points, you will get your license suspended or even revoked.

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Following all posted signs will help you avoid getting traffic tickets

Following all posted signs will help you avoid getting traffic tickets

5. Pay Attention to Traffic Control Devices

Traffic control devices are all those signs on the side of the road and painted on the road itself that tell you how you should be driving. Our streets are plastered with signs that tell us how to drive and more often, how not to drive - for example, no right turn, one way, no u-turn. Law enforcement uses this section to issue red light violations, stop sign violations, no u-turn violations, and other “traffic control device” violations.

They could, of course, give a ticket for running a red light, but since this ticket is given by compassionate officers who want to help the driver pay less for a ticket and have fewer points on their record. 6% of the tickets in Florida last year were given for violation of traffic control devices.

6. Carry a Valid Driver's License and Registration

There are four categories that are listed at 4%. In sixth place, 4% of the tickets were given to people who had problems with their driver’s license. They didn't have their driver's license with them, or were driving with an expired, revoked, or suspended one.

7. Stop at Stop Signs

Another 4% were caught driving through a stop sign. Some drivers completely missed the stop sign and kept driving through, while others probably came to a rolling stop. Drivers are required to come to a complete stop at stop signs.

Always stop for the red light and avoid getting a ticket for this type of moving violation

Always stop for the red light and avoid getting a ticket for this type of moving violation

8. Stop for the Red Lights

Another 4% ran a red light where there was no traffic camera present. While some drivers are distracted or in a hurry and deliberately run the light, many drivers simply have difficulty gauging whether they have sufficient time to make it through the intersection.

Recently, I heard a recommendation that may help drivers with this issue. When a light turns yellow, instead of going if they think they can make it through before the light turns red, a driver should stop if it is safe to do so. The difference between these two types of thinking is very small, but it does make a big impact on whether you make it through safely and legally.

9. Yield the Right of Way

Another 4% were given a ticket for failing to yield the right of way. This ticket is often given at accidents to a person who is turning left or right and colliding with oncoming traffic. They failed to yield to the traffic that was going straight, or to pedestrians who are rightfully using the crosswalk.

Other Commonly Broken Traffic Laws

According to the statistics provided, "Other Moving Violations" was the 10th cause, which accounted for 3% of citations. It incorporates a variety of issues, not including the remaining, which are listed in order are as follows:

  • Improper lane change
  • Improper turn
  • Improper backing
  • Improper passing
  • Following too close
  • Failing to use a child restraint
  • Driving with overhead lights
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road
  • Speeding (driving too fast for road conditions)
  • Failure to stop for school bus
  • Failing to dim the lights

A Driving Lesson Told in Pictures

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Shasta Matova

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