Traffic tickets are a fast way to get slammed with high fines and increased auto insurance premiums for months or years in the future. Still, no one’s perfect, and we’re all bound to make a mistake behind the wheel eventually. Traffic tickets are a part of life. Or are they? Technically, there are several ways to avoid a ticket. The way you behave on the road, in the moments you pull over, and even after you get a ticket can dictate whether traffic infractions affect your insurance premiums. These are the top ways to avoid a traffic ticket.
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Obey Safe Driving Regulations to Avoid a Ticket
Don’t speed. Obey traffic signs. Don’t run red lights. It seems obvious, but your busy lifestyle can make it easy to overlook the rules of the road. The first step to driving safely is to ensure you know the basic laws of driving. It’s common to study the rules to pass a test when you first get your license, but many people never go back for a refresher. Practicing safe driving can help you avoid accidents and ensure you never get a ticket. It can even help you reduce your insurance premiums with safe driving discounts and good driving credits.
Pay Attention to the Flow of Traffic
When the flow of traffic changes suddenly, there is a reason. Although you might be less likely to get a ticket when going with the flow of traffic, it’s not guaranteed. If the traffic ahead of you slows suddenly, switches lanes, or suddenly behaves differently, check your speed and keep your eyes open. There could be an obstruction in the road or a state trooper ahead. Either way, defensive driving can keep you safe and help you avoid a ticket.
Pull Over Quickly
As soon as you see the blue lights and hear the siren, pull over as soon as you safely can. Don’t keep driving for blocks or wait for the next exit ramp. You don’t want to create the impression you’re disobeying an officer or considering an escape. If you have an opportunity, it’s a great idea to pull over on a side road or into a parking lot. The officer will be safer exiting the vehicle, and they’re likely to be grateful for your conscientious actions.
Keep Your Hands on the Wheel
Keep your hands visible at all times so the officer can see you’re not holding a weapon. When you pull over, roll down the window, turn off your engine, and place both hands on the steering wheel. Then, when your hands are easily visible, the officer can see you’re not trying to access a weapon or stash evidence. When the officer asks for your driver’s license and registration, explain where they’re located and your intention to reach for them.
Be Polite to Avoid a Ticket
While you shouldn’t necessarily be in a rush to admit guilt, you should be friendly when the officer approaches your vehicle. Greet the officer in an agreeable way and even ask how their day is going. Friendly behavior can help put everyone at ease and humanize you to the officer. Be as polite as possible, and don’t say more than you need to.
Stay Where You Are
Unless you’re told to get out of the car, you should remain in your seat for the entire interaction. Most often, if you were pulled over for speeding or a minor driving infraction, you or your passengers will have no reason to exit the vehicle. Sudden movements are likely to look more like a threat than an attempt to comply with a law officer.
Making up reasons for your infraction won’t get you off the hook and is likely to make the officer angry. While you don’t have to blurt out that you were speeding or ran a stop sign, you’re not going to convince the officer you thought you were running 60 when you were clocked at 90, or you were completely unaware that you swerved all the way across the road. Excuses won’t work either to avoid a ticket. A seasoned police officer, or even a rookie, will recognize that you weren’t rushing to the hospital because your wife is in labor or you were swerving all over the road because of a bee in the car.
Keep a Ticket off Your Insurance
In spite of your best efforts, there is still a chance you’ll get a ticket. If this happens, remain calm. There are steps you can take to avoid the biggest consequences related to traffic tickets. Insurance companies aren’t immediately notified when you get a ticket. Most insurers pull your driving record once a year to make sure everything is current before renewal time. These steps can help you keep a minor traffic ticket off your driving record.
- Check the ticket for errors. If any of the facts are wrong (like your license plate number, name, date, etc.), your ticket may be thrown out.
- Take a defensive driving course. While Massachusetts law doesn’t allow drivers to dismiss citations by completing a driver safety course, certain classes can reduce your penalties.
- Get a deferral. When you plead guilty, or the court finds you guilty, you can ask for a deferral which keeps the ticket from being added to your driving record for a specific period of time (usually a year). As long as you don’t get another ticket during the deferral, your ticket will be dismissed. However, deferral does come with a fee, and if you get another ticket, both infractions will go on your record.
Avoid a Ticket & Maintain Your Low Insurance Premiums
Safe driving is the best way to avoid traffic tickets, and it can help you keep your insurance premiums low. However, there are other steps you can take to avoid tickets and the steep penalties that go along with them. If you’re concerned about the ways a traffic infraction can affect your insurance premiums, talk with your independent insurance agent to learn about actions you can take to keep your premiums manageable. To learn more about how traffic violations affect auto insurance premiums in Massachusetts, get in touch with one of the independent insurance agents at LoPriore.
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