Those flashing read lights strike fear into the heart of any driver: Another speeding ticket is on the way.
Not only is the ticket itself expensive, but getting such a citation can cause your car insurance rates to rise.
To help you avoid this fate, we’ve rounded up these tips to help you avoid the most common type of ticket.
1. Know your state law
In Florida, where Money Talks News is headquartered, drivers can get away with going up to 5 mph over the speed limit on most roads. The penalty for doing so under state law is a warning. Fines apply to drivers going at least 6 mph over.
2. Be aware of your surroundings
Driver advocate Richard Diamond, who blogs about the politics of driving, tells Popular Mechanics magazine that drivers must have situational awareness. For example, “if traffic slows, there’s a reason,” he says.
3. Avoid the fast lane
Not only does driving in the left-most lane risk giving an officer the impression you meant to go fast, it also makes it easier for officers hiding along the median to catch you. That’s because it’s the lane closest to them.
4. Watch out for hiding spots
Be aware of locations where officers can hide their cars or motorcycles from drivers but remain close enough to the roadway to use a radar gun and quickly hop back on the road to catch a speeder.
On highways, for example, such locations include median cutouts, overpasses and bends in the roadway wide enough to hide what lies ahead.
Mike Brucks, a former traffic cop for the military and El Paso, Texas, tells Popular Mechanics that when he was on duty on his motorcycle, his favorite hiding spot was the freeway:
“That’s where there are more speeders. I’ll park under overpasses, on bridges. I need to be able to start the bike and accelerate to go after someone.”
5. Wave at hidden police
An unidentified former police officer tells Reader’s Digest that if you notice a hidden police vehicle while already driving a little too fast, you should wave at the officer as you drop your speed.
[The officer] will either think that you know each other and wave back, or will think that you’re acknowledging that you were driving too fast, and are letting him know that you’re slowing down. Either way, you drastically reduce your chance of getting a ticket.
6. Look innocent
Some officers decide whether to give a ticket or a warning before they approach a driver, according to Reader’s Digest. So it helps to maintain your car exterior in a way that conveys that you’re a responsible, law-abiding citizen rather than a frequent speeder who hates police and is hiding something.
That includes keeping your car clean and uncluttered and avoid adding bumper sticks that might offend cops. Spoilers, tinted windows and neon undercarriage lights also are unlikely to make a favorable impression with cops.
7. Keep your car in working order
Jon Zimmerman, a traffic attorney in Washington state, tells InsuranceQuotes.com that officers are more likely to let a single offense slide by, meaning they’re more likely to pull over a car that is speeding and has a broken headlight or taillight, for example.
8. Be considerate
If you are pulled over, be nice.
“Fighting with the police officer never increases your chances of leniency. You want him to like you,” says Lifehacker writer Stewart Rutledge, who says he’s kept about 30 speeding tickets off his record.
Also keep in mind that pulling people over can be a dangerous task. So don’t do anything that might make an officer feel uneasy.
The insurance company Esurance advises that you turn off your car and turn on your hazards. If it’s dark, flick on a light inside your car. Roll down your window all the way.
Remove your hat and sunglasses. Stay inside the car and keep your hands visible. Rutledge recommends placing them at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel.
Don’t reach for your license, registration or insurance until asked, as an officer might perceive sudden hand movements as threats, Esurance states.
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