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By Jordan W. Charness

There are many myths out there, and everybody has heard, and people think they know, all types of things when it comes to driving. Some things have been proven to be true and others really don’t stand up. In today’s column, we will explore some of those driving stories and tell you which ones are true and which are false.

Ticket quotas

Many people believe that more traffic tickets are issued at the end of the month due to quotas officers need to fill. Others have heard that there are daily quotas that must be filled if an officer wants to keep his job. The fact of the matter is that in many places quotas are illegal. It is true that occasionally there will be a suggested quota of tickets that should be given out but it is rarely mandatory. As one police officer explained to me, “There are so many people breaking traffic laws out there that it would be irresponsible and unusual if a police traffic patrol officer did not give out a certain number on a daily basis. Either the cop would not be doing his job properly or it was a particularly safe driving day. While this may happen once or twice it is certainly a rarity. Besides, who needs quotas when there are so many speeders and scofflaws out there?”

Slamming on the brakes when you see a cop car will be enough to avoid getting a ticket

No – if you see him, he is likely to have seen you, too. Besides, shining your brake lights in the police officer’s eyes will just draw his attention to you in the off chance that you escaped detection. Letting your car slow down naturally might help, but driving at the speed limit will guarantee that you won’t get a ticket.

Going as fast as the cops is driving within the speed limit

The police will often drive slightly faster than the speed limit in order to chase down people who were speeding. Although cops do not generally speed when driving, you would do much better to look at your speedometer to make sure that you’re driving at or below the limit and not rely on the speed of any car around you, police car or otherwise.

Going with the flow

If you are going the same speed as everybody else, then there is no reason for you to be singled out and ticketed, right? Not so. Several court cases have ruled that since the police cannot catch everybody, the people they do catch speeding will have received valid tickets. “Everyone else is doing it” is not a defence.

Fast music makes you drive fast

Oddly enough, this one may be true. Scientists in Israel found that people who listened to up-tempo music have a tendency to increase their speed while driving. Conversely, those who listened to slower music will have a tendency to drive slower and in a more relaxed mood.

“There was no sign posted” is a valid defence

Not necessarily. Many municipalities pass laws making it illegal to park overnight and only put up a sign at the entrance to the city. There is no sign on each block and your ignorance of local laws and customs will not be enough to avoid a ticket.

Feel free to send me an e-mail with myths and tips of your own and I’ll be happy to put them together in a future column along with my comments so that you’ll know which ones are true and which ones are false.

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