You know enough not to text or drink while you're driving, but you could still risk getting a ticket if you don't know the law as well as you should. Here are five surprising things that can land you a traffic ticket:
Eating or Drinking a Coffee
If you're so busy that you resort to eating your meals while driving around town, you might want to consider being more careful. No states have an outright ban on eating or drinking while operating a vehicle, but many are beginning to crack down on distracted driving. New Jersey, for example, recently considered a bill that would explicitly outlaw anything that isn't directly related to operating a vehicle.
Police officers are beginning to take notice, too.
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About a year ago, a Georgia man was pulled over for eating a McDonald's cheeseburger while driving, even though he was otherwise obeying the law. In the same article, another police officer admitted to pulling over a woman because she was eating a bowl of cereal while driving.
Using a GPS System
Using a GPS system can help make you a better driver by keeping you on track and notifying you of traffic conditions and the current speed limit. GPS systems can be quite dangerous, though, if they're operated under the wrong conditions or placed in a dangerous spot.
If you're using a smartphone as a GPS system, it needs to be mounted and hands-free. When you're simply holding your phone in your hands for navigation, you might as well be typing text messages or surfing the Internet. As far as law enforcement is concerned, it's distracting and illegal either way.
Even the way you mount your GPS system, whether it's a phone or a stand-alone device, is important. In 28 states it's illegal to mount the GPS system to your windshield. The states that do allow windshield mounts are very specific about where you can place them. Your best bet is to mount them on your dashboard where they're safer and less distracting.
Blasting Your Radio
Hitting the open road while listening to the radio is as American as apple pie. It's something you learn to do as a teenager that stays with you for the rest of your life. If you're not careful about how you operate your radio, however, you could actually be hit with a traffic violation.
First of all, simply fiddling with your radio can be distracting. If you're trying to connect your iPod or smartphone to the radio to play your music list or a podcast, you can be hit with distracted driving. In order to be safe, you need to connect any Bluetooth devices to your radio before you start moving.
It's also important to watch exactly how loud you play your radio. California is a great example. There, you can be ticketed for playing any sound amplification system loud enough so that it can be heard 50 feet away from your vehicle.
Driving When You're Tired
If you drive to work in the morning, you're aware of how people tend to drive when they're tired. Many states have noticed this are beginning to take action. In New Jersey, driving after you haven't slept for a period of 24 hours is considered reckless driving and treated the same as driving under the influence. Other states, such as New York and Arkansas, have also passed legislation restricting driving while drowsy.
Wearing Headphones While Driving
Many people prefer to listen to their headphones while driving, as it provides them a hands-free way to enjoy their favorite music, podcast, or audiobook without having to blast their radio. In many states, however, this is illegal.
Some states, such as Ohio and California, allow you to wear headphones in only one ear while you drive. Most states that ban headphones allow exceptions for the hearing impaired or for motorcyclists who require headphones in their helmets.
If you want to learn how to drive safely no matter what the conditions are, make sure to enroll in a defensive driving course. You'll learn basic and advanced driving safety tips so that you'll never have to guess what your local traffic laws are. Best of all, you'll enjoy lower insurance rates and the ability to throw out any accumulated traffic points or tickets from past offenses.