Now that the winter weather has (hopefully) subsided for the year in Minnesota, many motorists are getting their motorcycles and convertibles out of storage and onto the highway. Although better road conditions make it easier for a person to handle a vehicle at high speeds, it means more police officers will be out surveying the roads. We’ll defend you if you get a traffic ticket, but you can make it easier on yourself by following the six tips below that discuss the most common reasons a cop might pull you over.
1. Speed – Speed is the easiest thing for a police officer to monitor while on the highway. Cops usually pick a small patch of highway to radar, so catching you for another violation can be tough unless you commit the act in the 5-10 second span before you pass the officer. Speed, on the other hand, can be monitored by a radar gun, and they can track your speed from great distances. Oftentimes a cop will catch you speeding before you even realize he’s there. Although it varies for one cop to the next, many cops say they won’t pull someone over for speeding unless they are at least 10 miles over the posted speed limit. A common rule of thumb to remember when driving on the highway is “Nine you’re fine, ten you’re mine”
2. Seat Belt violations – Seat belt violations are another thing cops look for when monitoring traffic. Seat belts have been shown to reduce injuries in accidents, and it only takes about two seconds to fasten your belt, so this is one of the easiest violations to prevent. Monetary penalties for seat belt fines can cost over $100 in Minnesota, and other citations can be issued if the officers find that you are violating any other laws (driving on a suspended license, driving without proof of insurance). For your safety and the safety of your bank account, take two seconds and fasten your seat belt every trip.
3. Improper equipment – Faulty equipment is a quick way to get pulled over because a driver has few arguments if an officer informs them that their taillight is burnt out. In most cases, if you treat the officer with respect you can usually get off with either a verbal or written warning. However, if your equipment violation was your own doing (failing to turn on your headlights at night, failing to use your turn signal) you might not be so lucky. The general rule is headlights should be turned on within a half hour of sunrise/sunset. If weather conditions are unfavorable, turn your lights on so you’ll be more visible to others.
4. Signs you may be under the influence – Erratic driving is something cops look for at all hours of the day, but cops may be quicker to pull you over if they notice you driving recklessly around bar time or in close proximity to an event that serves alcohol, like the Minnesota State Fair or a Twins game. Regardless of whether you’ve been drinking or not, numerous lane changes and varying your speed will draw the attention of the cops. Avoid passing vehicles on the right, and drive with the flow of traffic.
5. Illegal use of your cell phone – Talking on your cell phone while driving is legal in Minnesota as long as you are at least 18 years old, but an officer won’t hesitate to pull you over if you commit a minor violation while on the phone. Always be sure to signal lane changes while on a cell phone, and consider moving from the left lane if you’re on the highway. Talking on the phone can influence your speed, and going too fast or too slow in the left lane makes you an easy target for the cops. Also, never text and drive. Texting while on the road, even if you’re stopped at a red light, can result is a fine of nearly $300.6.
6. Your car itself – All cars are not created equal when it comes to catching the eye of the police. In a recent list, three Mercedes vehicles cracked the top ten most ticketed cars. The Grand Prix and Hummer also made the list, so take extra consideration on the road if you drive one of those vehicles. If you want to avoid a ticket, a minivan is the best route to go. Another survey found that red cars are most likely to catch the attention of the police, so slow down if you plan on taking your red convertible on a road trip this weekend.
Related source: CNBC