Even if you’ve been driving for decades, the excitement of being behind the wheel rarely loses its charm. American ingenuity perfected the automobile, so it’s no surprise that we love to drive. In Birmingham alone, there are eight cars for every 10 adults.
Once you earn your driver’s license, the Alabama DMV won’t test you on your behind-the-wheel knowledge again, unless for some reason your license is revoked. Most of us think we do a stellar job of obeying the traffic laws, but there are a few we are just plain forget to follow.Here are some traffic rules that might have slipped your mind:
Don't Pass? Don't Drive. The state of Alabama passed this ordinance in 1993 to counter truancy and dropout rates of high school students. Under current law, any student under the age of 19 must be enrolled in school and have a satisfactory attendance record in order to have and keep their driver’s license. Education is the fast lane to life-long success, after all.
Alabama Stop and Roll. Sometimes our egos get away with us; we think we are too important and too much in a hurry to come to a full and complete stop at a stop sign or red light. The fine for failure to stop can run upwards of $180. It can raise your insurance rates by 15 percent, and could cost you far more if you cause an accident. That’s something your ego can’t afford.
Tinted Windows. The ever-popular window tints may save you from having a one-arm-driver’s-side tan, but they can be illegal. Alabama has very specific laws for Visible Light Transmission (VLT), which differ by type of car and placement of window. Manufacturers of window tinting must be certified by the state, so be sure to ask your dealer if they’re using certified film. This is another fine that could cost you upwards of $180, and that makes for a poor return on investment.
Turn Signals. In 2012, the Society of Automotive Engineers released a study on turn signal usage rates. It found that failure to signal while turning results in twice as many accidents as are caused by distracted driving. Put down that phone, click on that signal and you could save lives.
Tailgating. Following another car too closely significantly reduces the amount of time and space you have to stop. Often the result is a rear-end collision, which could have been avoided by simply taking a few seconds. This is known as the “safety cushion.” An effective safety cushion takes into account the weight and size of your vehicle, the conditions of the road (nighttime, heavy traffic, weather) and a three-second count before moving forward. Save the tailgating for the football stadium. Enlist a designated driver. And don’t drive angry -- it increases your chances of tailgating behavior.
Here Comes the Bus. That big yellow school bus may not be magical, but that certainly shouldn’t stop you from treating it like it is. School bus passing citations are taken very seriously in every state, not just Alabama. Failure to do so can result in a three-point traffic violation. Last year, some school buses in Mobile were installed with cameras to capture offenders. Once you see those flashing red lights with extended stop signs, stop at least 20 feet away from the bus. If you’re on a two- or four-lane road that has no median, you must stop no matter which side of the street you’re on. This will save you a fine of $150.
Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann is a Birmingham personal injury law firm with a solid record of success in handling Alabama motor vehicle accident cases. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact us at (205) 322-8880. Consultation is always free and at no obligation to you.
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