You are expected to do your best to obey the rules, guidelines and rules of the road at all times. You are also expected to do whatever it takes to watch for the safety of your passengers, other drivers on the road, as well as yourself. Some things that come up are common sense, some are simply courteous and others are mandatory.
Over recent years, three main issues have become common to hear about and encounter. Some of these are things you must watch for as well as be defensive when it comes to sharing the road with other drivers.
The laws still vary from state to state when it comes to seatbelts. Even as a new driver, you should be clearly aware of the laws regarding safety belts in your state because you have studied the manual and recently taken the driving and permit test. If you should be traveling, though, you may not be aware of what the laws are as you travel from state to state.
When in doubt, click it up. This will avoid you being pulled over and receiving hefty fines. Really, in this day and age, safety belts seem to demonstrate the overall ability to save lives.
You can, of course, do research online before crossing state lines to find out what the laws are regarding seatbelts for each state. Very often now, when you cross a state line it will be posted at the border if the state requires a seat belt to be worn. Don’t assume though, that if you do not see it posted that it means you do not have to wear yours. In fact, the opposite is true. Just buckle up if you are unsure.
The laws can vary also about which passengers in the car have to wear a safety belt. Some regulations require only the driver to buckle up, some expect the driver and front seat passenger to click it, while some want everyone riding in the car to buckle up. Because you can get in trouble for your passengers not having their seat belts fastened it is, again, a good idea to enforce a rule in your car that no one rides unless they fasten their belts.
It is also very important to know what the guidelines are when it comes to different aged children riding in your car. Certain restrictions apply for youngsters based on the age group. This is because, in most areas, some ages must face the back of the seat and then, with age, can be turned to face the other way. Because this can be more complicated, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with state laws if you are traveling with children.
Also, do not borrow outdated car seats for a road trip. Regulations have changed, and continue to do so, and the one you have you in your grandmother’s attic may no longer pass the requirements.
Again, laws about phone calls and texting vary from state to state, but it is a pretty safe bet that texting, at least, is not allowed in your area. If you are not sure, assume you should not be texting or making phone calls while driving.
To begin with, texting while driving is just too much of a distraction and too big a risk to take while behind the wheel. It takes only an instant for an accident to happen. So even that quick text to your spouse should only be made while you are pulled off the side of the road or still in a parking lot.
Even using the phone is generally a poor choice while driving. The argument from some drivers is that talking on the phone while manning a vehicle is no different than having a conversation with someone riding as a passenger.
Studies indicate, however, that there is a greater level of distraction when talking on the phone and talking to someone physically in the car with you. The best thing you can do is practice safe dialing and texting. If you must use the phone, including to type in an address for your GPS app, pull over. By the way, fiddling with the iPod or similar items can be just as distracting and dangerous.
Drunk driving laws do not vary much, aside from the level of blood alcohol content (or BAC) allowed from area to area. When it comes to driving while drunk or even buzzed, there really is no “smart” way to do this. Even drivers who think they are okay to drive or claim they actually drive better when drunk cause a huge threat to themselves and to other drivers on the road. The bottom line is that it is an unsafe and unfair decision to make by putting people’s lives in jeopardy while driving under the influence.
Drunk driving infractions can result in injury or death of your passengers, other people sharing the road and, of course, yourself. A bad decision made while leaving a party or bar could result in the loss of life of an innocent bystander. If nothing else, the tickets can be extremely pricy and it can be next to impossible, as well as expensive, to secure automobile insurance.
If you do have an accident, even if no one is injured, your current insurance may not cover your expenses and you could be stuck with astronomical repair bills or be without a car altogether. If you have any damage to city property during a drunk driving incident, including hitting a park tree for example, those will be yours to cover.
Use common sense and you are bound to be a good and safe driver. While there are laws governing these three main issues, common sense will really clue you in to how you should handle yourself.