You’re behind the wheel of your car, minding your own business, when all of a sudden, you notice something out of the corner of your eye. Another vehicle is shifting rapidly between lanes, ducking in and out of traffic in a manner so dangerous you’ve only seen it done in video games. It doesn’t take long for the car to pull up almost to your back bumper. After the car proceeds to honk and flash its lights at you, you realize that you’re dealing with an aggressive driver.
Aggressing driving can range from innocuous (driving too fast, accidentally cutting you off) to the downright dangerous (tailgating you on purpose, cutting you off and braking in front of you in anger, etc.). Aggressive driving is a symptom of road rage, in which another driver is so irate at a perceived or real slight that he or she is willing to put lives at risk just to demonstrate his or her anger.
If you find that you’re dealing with an aggressive driver, consider using the following safe driving techniques:
- If possible, get out of the driver’s way as safely and as quickly as you can. If a driver is tailgating you in the fast lane on a highway, pull over when you can and let the car pass. Don’t try to teach an aggressive driver a lesson by slowing down, as this will only further enrage the driver.
- Don’t respond to the other driver. If he or she pulls up alongside you and begins yelling or giving you the finger, don’t respond with your own anger or outrage. Instead, keep your hands on the wheel, stare straight ahead, and resist escalating the conflict, no matter how in the right you might be.
- Whatever you do, never get out of your vehicle. This is an escalation of conflict, even if you’re attempting to explain your side to an enraged driver. If the other driver is approaching your car, stay inside and call the police.
- If a driver won’t leave you alone on the road, drive to a hospital or police station where you can get someone’s attention. Stay in your car and honk your horn until someone comes to your assistance. Again, call 911 if you’re in fear for your life.
For more safe driving tips and techniques, visit www.4safedrivers.com.
When it comes to safe driving, it’s important to remember that defensive driving plays a key element in your safety on the road. After all, you could be the best driver in the world – but if someone else decides to drift in your lane or cut you off, it could all come to naught. Add ice and snowy weather to that mix, and it becomes apparent that defensive driving in the winter could make all the difference to being a safe driver.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at defensive driving techniques you should use when you encounter wintery weather:
Stay Alert. Whether you’re driving in snow or on ice, defensive driving depends on your ability to stay alert and aware of others. If you’re feeling tired or fatigued, don’t go out and drive, as this greatly reduces your defensive driving techniques. If possible, wait out the storm at work, or consider staying at a nearby hotel if your evening commute will be too snowy or icy. It’s better to deal with a hotel bill than a wrecked car.
Leave Plenty of Room. Never tailgate in wintery weather. Give adequate space between you and the car in front of you. Icy roads make it more difficult to stop, which means it will take you longer to brake. If you’re right behind someone who has to come to a sudden stop, you might not have time or the space to come to a complete stop.
Don’t Speed. Notice those speed limits on the side of the road? Disregard them – when you’re driving in snow or on ice, you’ll want to drive as slow as possible. Don’t pay attention to any cars passing you; you should be driving at a speed that makes you feel comfortable. If you’re on the highway, get in the slow lane so other cars can pass you by.
Stay Home. If you don’t need to drive out in the snow, don’t. Icy and snowy conditions are highly dangerous, which means you should avoid being out on the road if you can.
Defensive driving in the snow and ice requires a great deal of patience and common sense. To learn more about defensive driving during all seasons, visit www.4safedrivers.com.
Think back to the time when you first were handed the keys to your first car as a teen. Did you feel powerful? Invincible? Like the entire world was laid out at your feet? That’s exactly what your teen is feeling as soon as you hand over those coveted car keys. Your teen is excited to finally stretch his or her wings and enjoy that little taste of independence.
While this is certainly a proud – and more than terrifying – moment for you as a parent, it’s important to remember that your teen may not be taking his or her safe driving skills seriously. As car crashes are the number #1 cause of death for teens, it’s critical for you to instill safe driving skills and habits into your teenager by using the following techniques:
- Give your teen a driving curfew. If you don’t want your teen to be out on the road late at nights, enforce this rule by insisting he or she has to be home at a certain time. The first time your teen breaks this rule, take away the keys – no questions asked.
- Share your driving experiences with your teen. Don’t pretend that you didn’t make mistakes when you first learned how to drive; instead, share the lessons you’ve learned. By approaching your teen from this perspective – rather than a strict lecture – you can ensure that he or she will be listening to you.
- Make a financial arrangement with your teen driver. He or she is likely to act more responsibly behind the wheel of a car if his or her money is going into its costs. Have your teen pay for insurance, or just have him or her contribute a certain amount of money to you each month for driving the car. This reduces the likelihood that he or she will take risks, as he or she will be more careful with a car that he or she “pays for.”
- Consider setting up a safe driving contract with your teen. If your teen ends up getting a ticket or misbehaves with the car, spell out what consequences will occur. Be sure to stick to these consequences to help spell out the importance of safe driving.
To learn more about safe driving tips for your new teen driver, visit www.4safedrivers.com.
When it comes to keeping yourself safe and sound on the road, you know not to head out during inclement weather. But what do you consider inclement weather to be? Do you refuse to go out during a hurricane, but find yourself driving down the highway during a rainstorm? Do you cuddle up inside during a snowstorm, but head out on the road as soon as the snow stops and the roads are plowed?
Safe driving involves understand the dangers of driving in even not-so-obvious inclement weather. If it’s possible for you to stay off the road when you’re encountering the following weather, be sure to do so – your safety may depend upon it:
- If there’s heavy rain in the forecast, consider staying indoors, even if it hasn’t started to rain yet. Many people find themselves out on the road in the midst of a flash flood, which can be extremely detrimental to your safety. If you do find yourself in the middle of a heavy downpour, slow down, put on your emergency lights, and pull over to the side of the road. If possible, seek shelter under a bridge with an emergency lane, as this can ensure that other drivers will see you.
- If the weather is too cold – and there has been rain or snow in the recent past – consider staying indoors. Even if it isn’t snowing out, black ice can pose a significant risk, as you may end up skidding over a patch of ice or snow. If you have to go out on the road, drive slowly, and avoid coming to short stops, especially over patches of ice.
- Forecasts for high winds can be dangerous for drivers, especially those who drive large trucks or smaller cars. Gusts of wind can cause you to shift from lane to lane, especially when they catch you by surprise. If your car doesn’t hold up well in windy weather, consider staying off the roads if possible.
The bottom line is this: if driving in any inclement weather makes you feel uncomfortable, just don’t do it. If possible, call your boss and let him or her know you’ll be working from home, or consider using up a personal day. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
For more safe driving tips and techniques, visit www.4safedrivers.com.
When it comes to safe driving, you want to ensure that your teen will always be protected whenever he or she is in the car. While you can teach your teen all the safe driving tips you want, there may come a time when your teen may encounter an emergency situation or scenario that requires advanced driving techniques. If you want to keep your teen driver safe on the road, try imparting the following advice and tips when teaching him or her how to drive:
- Teach your teen driver how to change a flat. Flat tires can happen at anytime, and they can be quite terrifying when they do occur. If you want to prevent your teen from panicking, it’s important to supply him or her with the knowledge and confidence he or she needs to change the tire. Walk your teen through the process a few times before having him or her change a tire. If you don’t know how to change a tire yourself, consider learning how alongside your teen. You can stay cool and calm on the road by empowering yourself with safe driving knowledge.
- Provide your teen with emergency supplies to keep in the car. These supplies should include an emergency hammer, which can be used to break the windshield; flares that can be placed on the road in the event of a breakdown; water and blankets to stay warm if it’s cold; the number of AAA or another roadside assistance service; and tools that he or she might need for changing a flat tire.
- Walk your teen through some of the more common emergencies that might happen on the road. Tell them to remain calm and to call AAA if the car breaks down, or encourage them to call 911 and drive to a local police station if they encounter an aggressive driver. Be sure to tell your teen – especially female teens – to ask for badge numbers before getting out of the car for a policeman. Many criminals dress up like police officers to pull over women and rob them, or worse. Staying safe on the road involves having your wits about you – and you should drill that into your teen’s head as much as possible.
For more safe driving tips for your teen, visit www.4safedrivers.com.
You want your teen to be safe on the road; that’s why you’ve made a commitment to teach your teen the art of safe driving, no matter how stressed or frustrated you might become during the process. While you’re trying to stay cool and calm throughout the process, you may make certain mistakes, many of which will be innocuous in nature. To ensure that your teen focuses on learning about safe driving – rather than getting annoyed and frustrated with you – then try using these tips while teaching your teen how to drive:
- Do stay as cool and as calm as possible. While it can be frustrating to teach your teen something that seems second nature to you, it’s important to realize that your teen is currently going through an anxious and fearful time. Think back to when you first started to drive; chances are you were terrified about merging on the highway, parallel parking, and doing other things that you now take for granted. Have a little patience, or take a deep breath whenever you feel tempted to yell at your teen for making a mistake.
- Don’t teach your teen to drive on a busy or residential road. The first time your teen learns to drive should be in a relatively empty parking lot, where there’s little chance that your teen will be nervous about oncoming cars. Only when your teen starts to feel confident should you move to the streets – and when it’s time for that, you should select a street that’s not very busy.
- Do point out your teen’s successes as well as his or her mistakes. When teaching your teen how to drive safely, it may be tempting to just point out the mistakes. However, this can be intimidating for the teen who is just learning how to drive. Compliment your teen for performing certain tasks well, as this can ensure that you’re building up his or her confidence levels.
- Don’t pressure your teen into practice. If your teen is starting to feel overwhelmed during driving practice, you should have your teen pull over the car on the side of the road. This can give your teen the chance to take a deep breath and let go of his or her frustrations.
To learn more about safe driving techniques for teens, visit www.4safedrivers.com.
One minute, you’re driving along the road, whistling to your favorite song on the radio – the next minute, you’re staring down at a police officer who just handed you a ticket for speeding. While you’ve always considered yourself a safe driver, you now have a speeding record – and if you want to maximize your chances of getting your dream job, you need to erase that ticket from your driving record pronto.
To protect your employment future and erase the ticket from your driving record, here are the steps you need to take to dispute a speeding ticket:
- Always be polite and cooperative with your police officer as soon as you’re pulled over. It’s harder to dispute a speeding ticket when you talk back to the police officer, because he or she is going to ensure that you get stuck with that speeding ticket.
- Never admit that you were speeding. If the officer asks why you got pulled over, admit you don’t know, and never admit to what you were doing. If you make an admission, the police officer can use it against you in a court of law.
- Check your ticket for inaccuracies. If you spot one, ask the officer to correct it immediately, as this could hurt you in the court. If there are inaccuracies that could help your case, however, keep quiet, as this will help the speeding ticket get dismissed.
- Record details, take pictures, mark down where you got pulled over, and take notes about the police officer’s position. All of these details will help you in court, and you don’t want to rely on memory to help you make your case.
- Follow the directions on the fine print of the ticket. This is usually where you’ll find information about where to submit your dispute, and what steps you should take to dispute this speeding ticket. Calculate the cost of fighting the ticket against paying it; if you’ll pay more to fight the ticket, you might want to see how this is going to impact your finances.
- If you can afford it – and depending on the severity of the speeding ticket – consider hiring a lawyer to help your case. This can ensure that your case is successful, and it can ease your mind as you won’t be responsible for gathering all of your evidence.
For more safe driving techniques, visit www.4safedrivers.com.
The legality of flashing your lights to warn other drivers of upcoming speed traps is a hotly contested topic.
It’s a common sight on the road. You’re driving along when you notice an oncoming car flashing their lights at you as they pass. You know that this means that there are police up ahead and you react by slowing down to avoid a speeding ticket. Is this legal? Based on recent court rulings, it appears that this type of communication is allowed.
A man in Florida who was recently ticketed for this behaviour decided to sue the County Sheriff’s Office for violating his civil rights. The judge ruled that the driver was exercising his right to free speech when he flashed his lights to warn another driver of an upcoming speed trap. The judge further stated that this type of communication is protected by the First Amendment and the driver was therefore acting legally. The man won his case and the County police are now being told that they should not issue tickets to drivers for flashing their lights in this manner.
It’s an interesting question. Regarding this case, Judge Alan Dickey stated, “If the goal of the traffic law is to promote safety and not to raise revenue, then why wouldn’t we want everyone who sees a law enforcement officer with a radar gun in his hand, blinking his lights to slow down all those other cars?”. In other words, Judge Dickey feels that the result of this activity will be to slow drivers down, and that will result in safer driving. Therefore, he feels that the outcome is positive.
However, not everyone agrees with this sentiment. Rich Roberts, a spokesman for the International Union of Police Associations, thinks that flashing your headlights interferes with laws that are designed to make driving safe. “Warning oncoming traffic that there are law enforcement officers ahead allows a speeder to slow down until he passes the officers – and then he starts speeding again,” Roberts said.
In the past, drivers in New Jersey, Ohio and Tennessee have challenged similar tickets that they have received for warning other motorists by honking their horn or flashing their headlights, and the courts have similarly determined that this activity is protected under the First Amendment.
Currently, it appears that police officers are no longer issuing tickets for flashing headlights to warn other drivers of speed traps, but the future legality of this activity is uncertain.
So many drivers ignore the importance of a seat belt – therefore often ignore the
seatbelt laws that are in effect in every state of the United States. Seat belt laws are
there to keep you safe, and without a great history of fatalities and injuries on roadways
that are related to the failure to put on a seatbelt, these laws would not exist.
Often times, drivers are under the false assumption that officers will not pull them over
just for their seatbelt being off – therefore, as long as they aren’t doing anything else
wrong, they feel they are safe from a ticket. This is a big myth that is completely wrong.
Officers will stop you just for not having your safety belt on, regardless of your speed or
any other factors. You could be driving up to par and with all other laws in regards, but if
you aren’t strapped in, you are committing a crime and will be stopped and ticketed.
A seat belt ticket may seem like no big deal, but the more you receive tickets, the more
money is coming out of your pocket and the more your driver record is affected. Why
even risk a perfect driving record for the failure to wear a seatbelt.
Statistics show that you are at a 20 times higher risk of injury or death just by not
wearing your seat belt when you get in your vehicle. Whether the driver or passenger
in the front or the back, the seatbelt is very important as it gives you the safety that you
need in the event of an accident. Without your seatbelt, there are several scenarios that
can occur, including:
Ejection from the vehicle
Impact with the windshield
Impact with other objects in the vehicle
Unconsciousness which impairs your ability to react
At the same time, you are responsible for those who are in the vehicle with you.
Whether a friend who is an adult or a family member who is a minor, their failure to wear
a seatbelt is reflected on you as you get the ticket and the fine and when it comes to
children, you can get a great deal of fines together. In fact, you can get several different
tickets if you have a minor in the vehicle who is improperly restrained by a safety belt,
as you are the responsible party and put them at a great risk by driving while they are
not in a seat belt.
Imagine: It’s a rather common day and you’re running around town, knocking errands off your to-do list when all of a sudden, you see an array of bright, flashing lights as you stroll through one of the same intersections you drive through every day.
You think to yourself, “I don’t think we were expecting a lightening storm!” and then you realize that you probably set off the flashes at a red light camera. Paranoid, you go online to do some research about how long it takes for them to send you a ticket, and how much it’s going to cost you.
You wait and wait and about a week later, you get a fancy $500 notice in the mail with several pictures of you with the surprised “flash” face as you made your way into the intersection, only milliseconds after it had turned red. How can this be? You were sure you didn’t run that light!
Sound familiar? If you drive in one of the 70+ cities in California that operate red light camera systems, it’s very likely that you have experienced a similar situation, or know someone who has. Red light cameras bring millions of dollars in every year to the cities and camera companies. There are many different conspiracy theories on them, but we’ve got the inside scoop on exactly how they’re run, and how you can avoid the headache of a ticket.
A Brief History
The first red light camera systems began as early as the 1960’s and are said to have been introduced into the United States by the 1980’s. Currently, red light camera systems are run in 25 states across the US. Fines generated by citations differ from state to state, but are as high as $500 in California. Supporters of the systems uphold that the cameras are designed to reduce the number of accidents at selected intersections, but some studies contradict that claim. Opponents argue that the systems are run as a revenue generator and have little to no affect on accident reduction. It’s an on-going debate as to whether red light cameras violate constitutional laws protecting the public.
How They Work
If you haven’t already figured out, red light cameras are designed to capture photos of red light runners. More specifically, they’re installed at specified intersections to capture red light runners turning right without stopping completely (or making illegal right hand turns), turning left on red, or going straight through the intersection on a red. The cameras are placed on the corners of the intersection and are activated by induction loop sensors embedded under the road which create a magnetic field around the entrance to the intersection. When a vehicle enters the magnetic field at a speed in which it detects that you will run the light, it causes the camera systems to activate and begin recording the incident. Pictures are taken of the vehicle entering and leaving the intersection, and of the driver’s face and the vehicle’s license plate.
The photos are gathered by the police department and are then reviewed by an officer. If the officer determines that the driver did apparently commit a violation, they will send the ticket to the owner on the vehicle’s registration and file it with the courthouse to follow up. In California, the police department must issue the ticket within 15 days of the date of violation. The California court system allows defendants to contest the alleged violation in a court trial or trial by written declaration (trial by mail).
Many argue that the officer who issues the ticket and testifies in court to a disputed case is not the proper person to present the photographic evidence, since he or she is not an expert in the camera systems.
The company that owns and operates the cameras contracts with the city to operate a ticket-based red light camera program. In California, cities are bound by a vast multitude of rules and regulations when operating a red light camera program.
For example, when installing a new red light camera at an intersection, the program must follow a 30 day warning period at that intersection before issuing actual citations to violators. The city must also make proper public announcements when installing cameras at new approaches and intersections. The law requires for there to be proper signs placed at each intersection’s approach, even if the intersection has a camera at only one approach, or for the city to have proper signs at each city entrance, indicating the use of red light camera systems within the city.
If the city is not in full compliance with each regulation, their red light camera program might be deemed illegal by the judge, as has been in the case of many cities, such as Napa in 2011 when the judge deemed that the “cost neutrality” clause in the cities’ contract with the camera company was unconstitutional.
How to Avoid Them
Undoubtedly, the best way to avoid a red light camera ticket is to come to a complete stop before the limit line before the light turns red.
It’s very common for drivers who are making a right on red (which is legal in California, unless otherwise noted) to slow down, look, and turn if no one else is coming.
California vehicle code 21453(a) stats that a driver “shall stop at a marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection.” Red light cameras are designed to capture drivers who turn right without completely stopping before the limit line.
A huge percentage of red light tickets that are issued are for this violation, and cost as much as if the driver blew straight through the light.
Opponents use this information to support their claim that red light cameras are simply revenue generators, arguing that making a right on red without stopping completely is not as dangerous as blowing straight through the light. Legislators in the past have tried to pass laws that separate the two incidences into two separate violations, with right on reds being less expensive than runners driving straight through the light. As it stands, the two incidences result in the same fine, and the same violation.
If You Get a Ticket
Although California’s red light camera ticket fines are debatably expensive, the California court system does make it fairly easy to contest a ticket through a trial by written declaration. This option allows drivers to contest their case through the mail, and gives drivers who are found guilty a second option to fight it in court through a trial de novo.
Many people who have received red light camera tickets have decided to contest their ticket, not because they didn’t think they ran the light, but because they simply couldn’t afford the high fines and insurance hikes from the potential point placed on their record.
Many feel that the cameras are unconstitutional and violate their rights as citizens with being recorded on camera. Until the vast majority of lawmakers and government authorities can agree that this is the case, red light camera systems will continue to be a multi-million dollar revenue source for cities.
Sara Schoonover is Vice President of Ticket Kick a California company that helps drivers get red light camera tickets and other traffic tickets dismissed by helping drivers through the trial by written declaration process. The company, which formally launched in 2010 after providing similar services since 2006, is the leading company in this space and growing rapidly. You should also get a copy of your DMV driving record at 4SafeDrivers.com.