While we all do our best to obey the rules of the road, sometimes even the most seasoned drivers find themselves on the other side of a traffic stop. Getting pulled over for a driving violation generally results in a ticket to pay, along with a potential increase to your car insurance premium.
Worried you may have picked up some bad driving habits over the years? As a refresher, here are some of the most common driving violations and how to avoid them.
With our busy lives and schedules, it’s easy to see why speeding is one of the leading causes of traffic stops in Canada. The best way to avoid speeding is to stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings at all times. Make a habit of checking your speedometer every time you see a speed limit sign and adjust your speed as necessary. Plan your trip in advance and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination so you don’t need to rush.
2. Failing to stop at a stop sign
It can be tempting to roll through an intersection when you’re in a hurry and there’s no one around. However, failing to stop at a stop sign is a dangerous offence that could have potentially deadly consequences, especially if there is a pedestrian attempting to cross.
When you see a stop sign, you must bring your car to a full and complete stop before reaching the stop line. If there is no stop line present, stop your car before entering the nearest crosswalk or, if there is no crosswalk, immediately before entering the intersection.
Once your car is at a complete stop, take a few seconds to look both ways and check your blind spots before proceeding. This will help to ensure there is no question that your car was at a full and complete stop before safely proceeding.
3. Driving without a seat belt
In Ontario, all drivers and passengers must wear a seatbelt that is securely fastened and properly adjusted. If your passengers are under the age of 16, it is your responsibility as the driver to ensure their seatbelts are fastened properly at all times. The shoulder part of the seat belt should be worn across the chest with the lap part of the seat belt worn across the hips. The seatbelt should not be twisted or torn in any area and must be worn close against the body. A good habit is to ensure that you and your passengers are all safely buckled in before turning on the car.
4. Running a red light
As is the case with speeding, many drivers are tempted to drive through a yellow light in order to reach their destination faster. However, speeding through a yellow light is an unsafe habit that often results in a driver running a red. Running a red light is incredibly dangerous and could easily cause a collision with another vehicle or a pedestrian. Many traffic lights are also equipped with red light cameras, which make it easy for law enforcement to track down the unsafe drivers who ran a red. When you are approaching a traffic light that is yellow, you must stop if you can safely do so. Once the light has turned red, you must bring your car to a full and complete stop at the stop line.
5. Making an improper turn
An improper turn – such as a U-turn in a no U-turn zone or turning from the wrong lane – is a dangerous habit that can take other drivers by surprise and lead to a collision. When turning, it is important to be vigilant and watch for all signs and pavement markings – especially when driving in an unfamiliar area.
If you need to make a U-turn, check first to ensure there aren’t any no U-turn signs. Before making the U-turn, you must be able to clearly see at least 150 metres in both directions. It is illegal to make a U-turn on a curve in the road, on or near a railway crossing, hilltop, bridge or tunnel that obstructs your view.
It pays to be a safe driver! In fact, if you have a clean driving record with no traffic violations within the last three years, you could be eligible for a discount on your car insurance premium. Contact an OTIP broker at 1-800-267-6847 to get a quote for car insurance or if you're a current OTIP policy holder, call 1-866-561-5559 to ensure you're ensuring all of the eligible discounts.
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