Your parents meant well when they sat you down and explained driving. The laws, the customs, the rules of the road. However—and bless their hearts—they likely had it all wrong and loaded you with a bit of misinformation. Unfortunately, you’re not the only one still swimming in a sea of delusion. Millions of drivers have fallen victim to believing these 10 ridiculously common myths. Read on and you'll seriously reconsider your driving habits.
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The lie: If you contest your ticket and the cop doesn’t show, you’re free
The truth: This never happens. A cop not showing will let you off, but the cops work with the court clerks to schedule as many citations as possible on the same day to prevent no-shows from happening.
The lie: Tickets in other states don’t count against you The truth: States share traffic violations with one another, so you’re pretty screwed. There’s something called the Driver Licensing Compact that guarantees info-sharing, and every state but Georgia, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Tennessee is a member.
The lie: Driving barefoot or in flip-flops will earn you a ticket
The truth: This is complete and utter nonsense. When you’re barefoot, you have a lot more feel for the pedals than you do in most shoes. Why in the hell would that be illegal when giant boots or stilettos aren't?
The lie: The color of your car affects your chances of getting a ticket The truth: It’s a nice myth, but a myth nonetheless. While there may be statistical deviations from time to time, there’s simply no evidence that will lead you to conclude a red car will get pulled over more than a silver car, or vice versa. If there was, you’d definitely be paying extra for some colors when insuring your ride.
The lie: You can get your ticket thrown out if you don’t sign it
The truth: Signing your ticket is simply an acknowledgement that you received it. Any oversights like leaving that line blank count as clerical errors, which don’t help you. You could try to say you didn’t actually get the ticket, but in court it’s your word vs. that of the cop. Cops win that one every time, and now you’re looking at the possibility of a perjury charge. And, in Texas, you can get thrown in jail for refusal to sign.
The lie: You can’t get a ticket when you’re keeping up with the flow of traffic The truth: Yes you can. Does keeping up with traffic mean you’re driving above the speed limit? If so, that’s called speeding. You might think there’s safety in numbers, but eventually an officer needs to make sure everyone sees those bright flashing lights of his/hers.
The lie: You won't get a ticket for an emergency
The truth: It's unfortunate, but you’re still speeding. It’s up to the officer’s discretion as to whether you’ll get a ticket, and that might come down to what kind of emergency you’re talking about. Wife in labor in the back seat: maybe. You just finished that giant soda and you don't want to pee at a gas station? Better luck next time.
The lie: Ticket quotas exist The truth: Not really. Some jurisdictions do have minimum numbers to ensure officers are legitimately doing their jobs instead of contributing to a donut shop’s profit margin, but by all accounts, those numbers are so low an officer really would have to turn a blind eye to scores of infractions to not hit the marks.
The lie: You can’t get a ticket driving the speed limit
The truth: The speed limit assumes optimal conditions. If you’re doing 40 mph in a 40 mph zone after dark, on a sheet of black ice, you’re driving recklessly and can/should receive a ticket.
The lie: You can get out of a ticket by challenging the accuracy of the radar The truth: You can try, but it won’t do you any good. Radar guns are calibrated regularly, and you can request to see the calibration...but that might only confirm that you’re guilty. If the officer says you looked like were going significantly over the limit, his testimony alone can be enough to nail you, too.