How to avoid a traffic citation
by Charlie Sewell, columnist
February 02, 2014 12:05 AM | 1202 views | 0 0 comments | 61 61 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The mere sight of a police officer in the rearview mirror can make some law abiding drivers grip the steering wheel as tight as if they were hanging off the side of a 70 story building. There are less expensive ways to avoid an unwanted close encounter with a traffic cop than purchasing a radar detector. Here are a few points to ponder.

The best source of camouflage from the police is to blend in with traffic. Northrop Grumman developed the B-2 Stealth Bomber at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to make it invisible to radar. Driving in the right lane in a long line of traffic can provide similar stealth and the extra cost is absolutely zero.

A kaleidoscope is eye-catching because of the continuously changing pattern made by bits of colored glass. A car with a shattered windshield is equally eye-catching, regardless of color. What message does your vehicle send?

Burned out headlights, taillights and tag lights can bring unwanted attention. Some aftermarket products like dark window tinting, taillight covers and tag frames may be perfectly legal to purchase, but not necessary legal to use in all states. Talking on a cellphone may also be legal in Georgia, but holding a cellphone to your ear will garner as much attention as wearing an orange football helmet.

If a car is exceeding the speed limit and it is the only car in sight, the driver might as well have applied a bumper sticker that reads “Ticket Me,” because he or she is inviting an unscheduled appointment with an officer of the law. By the time a police car with speed detection is spotted on the side of the road, it is too late to hit the brakes. The time to slow down is not a question of when.

Statistics that prove dying in a traffic accident is greatly reduced by wearing a seatbelt are clearly not an incentive for some drivers to obey that law. It doesn’t take an airplane designer, however, to realize that not wearing a seatbelt can bring unwanted attention. Tranquil images of traffic can be suddenly disturbed by drivers that quickly change lanes, or make consecutive multiple lane changes, without proper signaling. Both offer the same stealth as walking nude in a department store.

Knowing dangerous driver attitudes is critical to preventing traffic accidents and future embarrassment. Here is a newsflash: being pulled over by a police officer is all about the attitude and actions of the driver, not the officer activating the blue lights. Some cars are rolling billboards that advertise “stop me, only me.”

I double-dog dare you to honestly assess the message you and your car broadcast when you drive. Signs and television commercials advertise “Don’t Drink and Drive.” Perhaps we should promote “Think before you drive,” and “Think and drive.” Drivers who want to avoid traffic citations should prepare a pre-drive checklist and soar like a B-2 rather than crash like a kamikaze.

Charlie Sewell is the Powder Springs chief of police. His column runs monthly in the Marietta Daily Journal.
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