Nobody wants to be pulled over by a police officer. Even more, no one enjoys receiving a traffic ticket, especially if you are on a car rental vacation. Whether you're driving on a highway, down a rural road, or on busy city streets, it's important to remember the police are there for your protection, and for the protection of others on the road. So don't be foolish – drive smart!
Here are some ways to avoid a traffic ticket while driving your independent car rental:
Obey The Laws...Or Else
This might seem obvious, but the best and only way you can guarantee you will avoid a traffic ticket is to follow the rules of the road. This isn't always as easy as it may seem, especially if you are visiting a new country, state, or province in your rental car. The next time you rent a car, take the time to review any unique driving laws in your destination. Easy advice to follow includes driving based on the posted speed limits, using your turn signal, wearing your seatbelt, and always driving with a zero blood-alcohol content. Remember, the only real way to avoid a traffic ticket is to obey the law and avoid bad driving habits.
It May Be Routine, So Be Polite
It's normal for your heart to race a bit when you see those flashing lights in your rearview mirror, but when you do, always remain polite and respectful. Often, when you are pulled over or stopped at a traffic blockade, it's for a routine procedure. Police officers could be looking for a specific vehicle that matches the description of your rental car, performing a seatbelt check, or even checking for drunk drivers. Remaining polite and respectful is key to avoiding a citation. This includes not pleading ignorance or arguing. As well, don't show any annoyance, even if you're in a hurry. Finally, don't "overtalk." Let the police officer do his or her job, and you'll likely be back on the road in no time. Police officers are normal people after all, so be kind, and they'll likely reciprocate.
When You Get Pulled Over, Follow These Tips
In the unfortunate circumstance that you actually get pulled over for speeding, or breaking another rule of the road, there are a few important things you should do immediately.
- Stop your vehicle as soon as you see the flashing lights. Pull over to a safe location off the road on the right shoulder, put your vehicle in park, turn off your engine, and put on your four way lights.
- Be polite! This doesn't just mean how you converse with the officer. Use your manners by turning off your radio, GPS, or any other noise making device in your vehicle. Politely ask your passengers to end any conversation they might be having and to remain quiet unless the officer speaks to them. Finally, roll down your window.
- Be ready to produce documents. Have your driver's license available when the police officer reaches your window. As well, be ready to produce any paperwork you received from your car rental company, including the vehicle insurance and ownership papers.
- Never plead ignorance. Despite the fact you're a visiting driver, using a car rental vehicle, it is your responsibility to know the rules of the road. Pleading innocence, or ignorance, will likely get you a ticket immediately.
Drive Defensively and Be Aware
One of the easiest ways to protect against a traffic ticket is to be aware and drive defensively. Watch for road signs specifying local rules, in particular speed limits. As well, checking your mirrors regularly will help you monitor the other vehicles around you, and will also help you detect a police officer who might be following you, or pulling you over. Not noticing the flashing lights of a police cruiser attempting to stop your vehicle is a signal you are a distracted driver. If you can pull over as soon as the flashing lights come on, and follow the above tips to help avoid a traffic ticket, you could be back on the road without demerit points, or a costly ticket, sooner than you think.