One of the favorite pastimes in America is a good, old-fashioned road trip. From the planning and preparation to selecting the most scenic route and best snacks, there are plenty of tasks to take care of when getting ready for a long drive. But as you cross state lines, you may need to consider the various laws each state has for drivers, such as distracted driving laws or what to do if you get pulled over.
There is no possible way to know all the ins and outs of every law for every state you drive through. You can, however, keep the following in mind as you're heading towards your final destination.
Know the Various Speed Limits
Speeding is a dangerous offense no matter what state you're located in. When you're driving across state lines — which often includes unfamiliar places — one of the biggest factors to pay attention to on the road is the local speed limits.
You might assume that the speed limits on a federal highway will be the same through each state. This actually is not true. Speed limits areset by state and local jurisdictions, which means you should be paying close attention to the limits because they could change from town to town.
Of course, you'll want to pay even closer attention to designated work zones and school zones. Not only is this the best practice for safety, but the fines are significantly increased if you do receive a moving violation. Be aware that most states reduce a school zone speed limit to 15 mph, and work zone speed limits depend on the type of project.
The best habit is to drive within the posted speed limits, even if it appears no one is around, and no matter what roads you are driving on.
Understand the Mobile Phone Usage Laws
Each state has its own laws regarding cell phone usage while driving. It may also be called distracted driving in some states, so be on the lookout for different terminology. Most laws, in particular, target talking or texting while driving because they can lead to deadly consequences. In 2019, these behaviors claimed over 3,100 lives according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Almost all states have a ban on texting while driving, but some states' distracted driving laws go even further. Your road trip may include driving through a state where there is a complete hand-held cell phone ban, such as in Georgia. This means you must use Bluetooth technology and talk hands-free, or you can't talk on the mobile phone at all. There are also age restrictions within certain states, such as Indiana, where it is illegal for drivers 21 and under to use a cell phone while driving.
Not only do you want to obey mobile phone usage laws for your own safety and the safety of others, but it may help you avoid a costly fine simply. Pleasing that you weren't aware of the state's distracted driving laws won't stop you from getting a ticket. If you're unsure of the state's particular distracted laws, you should play it safe and put your phone away while out on the road.
What to Do if You Get Pulled Over
Nothing can spoil a road trip faster than getting pulled over, but it does happen. If it does, it's important to remain calm and respectful of authority to avoid making the situation worse. You may think because you're an out-of-town driver that it's less likely you'll receive a ticket, but you may actually be more likely to get one.
No matter what state you're pulled over in, you do have certain rights as a driver. This includes:
The right to pull over to a safe area
The ability to ask why you were pulled over
The ability to ask for your Miranda Rights
Remaining silent, if you so choose
Refusing a search or a field sobriety test
The ability to ask whether or not you are free to go
If you do receive a ticket in another state, be sure to find out all your options surrounding payment. You'll likely won't be able to appear in court to contest the ticket. However, you may be able to take an online defensive driving course to keep the points off your license and reduce the impact on your personal auto insurance rates.
Learn Defensive Driving Skills
No matter where you are driving throughout the country, defensive driving is always a smart idea. Better driving skills and greater confidence behind the wheel are your best bet, no matter which state you're traveling in.
What does defensive driving look like? While you can get comprehensive lessons when you enroll in a qualified defensive driving course, there are numerous skills to practice to become a better driver. This includes:
Understanding the various vehicle zones and avoiding crashes
Learn how to deal with aggressive drivers
Knowing where the typical blind spots are in both your vehicle and others
How to steer out of a skid
The difference between peripheral and central vision
These are only a few of the many examples of how you can become a more defensive driver, which in turn can lead to safer driving habits at home or on a road trip.
Stay Safe When Driving State to State
Taking safety seriously as you cross the state lines will not only make you a better driver, but it could help you avoid trouble on the road altogether. Aceable can help prepare you for the best possible driving experience with its in-person or online defensive driving course options and ensure your road trip is worth every mile.