There are many reasons to drive well. If preservation of life is not a sufficient motive, consider costly tickets. If you drive as though the police are watching, you may make fewer errors. There are many things that can attract a law officer’s attention, so if not for safety or pride, at least drive in a way to avoid being singled out for a citation.
Hand-held phone use has graduated from a secondary to a primary offense. In 2008, you had to be committing a primary offense (like speeding) to be ticked for the secondary offense of having a phone to you ear while driving. Now, using a hand-held phone (or electronic device) is a primary offense, and a host of other distractions are potential secondary offenses. You can now be pulled over for talking on your cellphone (or any primary offense) and be cited for a secondary offense like grooming or eating.
So, if an officer pulls you over for a primary offense, such as improper lane change, then deems another distraction (like eating) was a contributory factor, you may be cited for both.
Unfortunately, according to my observations and talks with state troopers, a primary violation is usually happening. For example, almost everyone follows too closely. Our State RCW 46.61.145 says, “The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.” That rule is somewhat subjective, so one could easily be pulled over for discussion of it.
Speeding is a common primary violation, but improper stopping is equally observed. If officers so chose, they could stop a majority of drivers for making rolling stops at stop signs. These drivers, who slow down but fail to make absolute stops, always swear that they stopped when confronted. That’s because it’s the only kind of stop they ever make.
If your primary offense isn’t following too closely, speeding, or slowing in lieu of stopping, there are plenty others to choose from. When did you last check your vehicle lighting? Common outages (and reasons for being pulled over) are headlights, high-mount brake lights, or license plate lights. Make a walk-around check next time you depart in the dark.
Failure to use turn signals is another ubiquitous violation. Everyone I speak with is annoyed by this driver shortcoming, so who are the perpetrators? Maybe some of those claiming annoyance are actually forgetting to signal lane changes or other turns.
A couple of more regulations drivers may overlook: Children under age eight, or less than 4 feet-9 inches, must be properly restrained in a child booster seat. In addition, the driver of a vehicle transporting a child who is under thirteen years old shall transport the child in the back seat positions in the vehicle where it is practical to do so.
If you are pulled over by the police, stay in your vehicle. If you get out, the officer is receiving a message of “flight or fight.” The officer is then braced for you to run, or even pull a gun — you don’t want to put him or her in that frame of mind. Most importantly, to avoid ticketing, you must produce a valid driver’s license, current vehicle registration, and an active proof of insurance. If you don’t, it’ll cost ya’.
Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.