Many drivers become a bit lax about some regulations and driving practices after a few years of experience, especially when they drive mostly in the same areas. Becoming lax about these driving practices could get you more than a ticket. Each of these bad driving practices is a violation of Virginia law. Each could earn you a ticket. More important, each of these driving practices could get you involved in a crash. Crashes can cause injuries or death.
The top five bad driving practices typically develop out of complacency. They may seem insignificant. But they cause crashes on Virginia roads every day.
- Not using turn signals. Without turn signals the people around you have no idea what you are doing. Other drivers depend upon turn signals to know they need to slow down or change lanes to accommodate your intentions. Pedestrians depend upon turn signals to know if it is (or should be) safe to step off the sidewalk. Remember to use turn signals, and to use them at least 100 feet before your turn.
- Running caution or stop lights. The point of a caution light is to allow time for the intersection to clear before other drivers enter it. If the light turns yellow before you enter an intersection, stop; don’t risk a crash.
- “Rolling stops” at stop signs. The purpose of a stop sign is to tell drivers they need to stop, look in every direction, and enter an intersection only when it is clear. Failure to stop completely might not give you time to avoid a wreck involving another vehicle, a bicycle, or a pedestrian.
- Rubbernecking. When you slow down and shift your attention to nearby construction, road workers, accidents, vehicles on the side of the road, or a host of other distractions, you are not paying attention to vehicles around you or ahead of you. If the vehicle in front of you stops, you might not see it in time to stop. The result could be a chain reaction crash. If your attention is elsewhere, you might not be aware of merging traffic, emergency vehicles, or police officers directing traffic. Failure to keep your eyes and your mind on what you are doing could put you or other drivers at risk.
- Speeding. Speed limits are determined based on activity on a given street or road, the type of road, and the anticipated time required to react to that activity. Always observe posted speed limits. If you do not know the posted speed in a particular area, you will usually be within the law by observing these speeds in Virginia:
- Business and Residential areas: 25 mph
- Secondary roads (numbered 600 and above): 55 mph; 45 mph for trucks
- Unpaved roads: 35 mph
- Interstate highways: 60 – 70 mph (depending on traffic volume and number of interchanges)
By remaining alert and attentive when driving, observing the laws, and not slipping into bad and dangerous driving practices, you reduce your risk of being ticketed for a traffic violation. More important, remember that these bad driving practices could get you more than a ticket. They could take a life.