DONE - It’s no secret that traffic violations

It’s no secret that traffic violations are on the rise. Looking for ways to fill budget shortfalls, local governments are increasing not only the frequency with which traffic citations are issued, but also the fines required to pay them.

This is an expense that is hitting more households every year, and there seems to be little recourse.
What Traffic Violations Cost
It may seem to be a bit of a stretch to discuss traffic violations on a blog that deals mainly with financial topics. But the cost of traffic violations can be significant. Consider the following:

The Fine Itself
A single traffic citation can now cost several hundred dollars. And depending upon the nature of the violation it can be substantially higher. Not only that, if you don’t have the cash to pay the fine, additional fines can be added to the original charge. In many jurisdictions fines become progressive – a higher fee than normal can be imposed on a citation if you’ve had others in the past. Where I live, a judge can automatically add $100 to any fine if you’ve ever been cited in the past.

The Cost of Court Fees
If you fight a traffic ticket in court and lose, not only will you have to pay the fine, but you’ll also have to pay court costs on top of it.

Higher Insurance Premiums
To add insult to injury, many traffic citations come with “points” that insurance companies will use to increase your premiums based on the higher risk you represent from having had a violation. You will typically pay a higher premium as a result, and usually for at least three years. Multiple violations only compound the problem.

Background Checks
There’s yet another cost of traffic violations that is becoming increasingly important. Background checks often include a check on your driver’s record. Certain violations, or too many of them, could prevent you from getting a job or result in higher premiums for life or health insurance.
What You Can Do to Avoid Traffic Violations

Since we know that the risk of incurring a traffic violations is increasing, along with the cost, the best strategy is avoidance.

1. Be more alert when you drive.
Be aware that there are more police on the roads than ever. Pay more attention to traffic signs – that includes warning signs and speed limits. Pay attention to the traffic up ahead so that you can avoid tailgating and other behaviors that tend to draw police attention. Assume that there is a traffic camera in the vicinity of any intersection with traffic lights.

2. Slow down.
It isn’t so much that speeding is the only offense the police are looking for, only that it is the most common and the easiest to detect. Be careful to obey speed limits, and when you aren’t sure what the speed limit is, watch for the nearest sign and drive cautiously.

3. Be purposeful about stopping.
If you come to a stop sign or red light, you should condition yourself to stop on instinct. Many of us have become accustomed to making a “rolling stop”, which is to say we tap the brakes and keep on driving. But when you see a stop sign you should come a complete stop. And even if your jurisdiction allows right turn on red, assume that you are required to come to a complete stop before making the turn.
What to Do if You Get a Ticket

We’re all human, so we all face the very real potential of being ticketed for traffic violations even if we’re otherwise careful drivers. What should you do if it happens to you?

1. Never argue with a cop!
My father told me this when I was growing up, and it’s proven to be good advice throughout my life. A couple of years ago I was pulled over by a cop for “driving on the wrong side of the road”. What really happened was that I started turning about 100 feet too soon (into a painted median), and I was pulled over by an officer who was right behind me – so much for being alert!

I was very careful to be extremely polite, and because of this the officer told me that he would let me go with a warning. He told me that I was respectful and he appreciated that, and that a lot of people argue their way into a ticket. Moral of the story: Swallow your pride and be respectful. It’s nothing personal – the cops are just doing their job. A police stop is a stellar time to put your best Christian foot forward.

2. Ask the judge for a lesser charge.
If you get a citation for a traffic violation consider fighting it in court (but again, never with the cops at the stop). You should only do this if you feel you have a reasonable basis for challenging the citation as there are court costs involved. My wife did this once, and while she had to pay the fine, the judge waived points on the citation. Though she had to pay $100 for the fine, we probably saved at least $900 in extra insurance costs over a three year period.

3. Take a defensive driving course.
If you do have a traffic violation – and especially if you have more than one – consider taking a state approved driving safety program- Click Here to know more or traffic school. That won’t get your traffic fines taken away, but it will have a positive effect on your auto insurance premiums. If you go this route, be sure to check first with your state Department of Motor Vehicles to determine the process and the list of approved providers.

With traffic violations and fines on the rise – and no sign of the situation improving any time soon – our only choice is to accept the reality and to modify our behavior in order to deal with it. If we do, we can probably save ourselves thousand dollars over a lifetime.

Have you noticed an increase in both the frequency and cost of traffic violations in recent years? How are you dealing with this?