Once you’ve been on the road for a few years, it’s easy to forget the traffic laws that you committed to memory back in the days of driver’s ed. Here’s a quick refresher on those traffic laws that are oh-so-easy to forget.
While individual states have their own particular brands of bizarre traffic laws — in Massachusetts, for example, you can’t operate a car with a gorilla in the backseat — there are a number of traffic laws that are oft-forgotten and oft-broken in all 50 states.
Failing to use signal
Come on, people, use your turn signal. It can prevent collisions, it’s easy to do and you’re actually breaking the law if you don’t use a signal when switching lanes or turning.
We all know how annoying it is to be tailgated by an aggressive driver, but the behavior is actually unlawful. Most states have laws that stipulate you must be at least three seconds behind the car in front of you, or else you could get a ticket.
Failing to update driver’s license
While driver’s license issues aren’t moving violations, they’re some of the easiest laws for drivers to forget about. When you switch residences, you need to let your state DMV know about your address change within 30 days, or else you’re in violation of the law.
Cutting across solid white lines
All those lines on the road aren’t just showy artwork. They’re supposed to alert drivers to rules for behavior. Many drivers, unfortunately, disregard the lines on the road and do whatever the heck they want. As a driver, you’re never allowed to cross a solid white line. Wait until the lines turn into dashed lines rather than solid before you switch lanes.
Passing in a no-passing zone
We know that you have places to go and people to see, but you just can’t pass slower drivers in a no-passing zone. Use the left-hand lane for passing if there’s more than one lane. Otherwise, wait until the yellow lines on the road change from solid into dashed before you attempt to pass.
Cutting through parking lots
Wait, but I thought cutting through a parking lot was just a savvy way to avoid traffic? Nope. It’s illegal.
Not stopping for a school bus
This is a big one that can set you back hundreds of dollars if you get a ticket. If you see a school bus stopping to load and unload, you simply must stop and wait for the bus to start rolling again. Think of the children, people.
Driving on shoulder
The shoulder is there to provide space for drivers to pull over in an emergency, as well as access to accidents for emergency vehicles. It is definitely not there as your personal HOV lane.
Texting or calling while driving
We all know that texting or calling while driving isn’t safe, but did you know that it’s also illegal in many states? And it’s good news, too, since texting while driving is just as dangerous as drinking and driving. 41 states ban texting while driving, and 12 ban hand-held cell phones. Check your local laws to avoid a ticket.
Failing to yield to pedestrians
Unlike in many European countries where drivers will speed up to frighten a pedestrian crossing the road (not that it’s ever happened to me, ahem), American laws typically give the right of way to pedestrians. You have to yield to a pedestrian, even if he or she is crossing dangerously or wearing a terrible outfit. Bummer.