Know traffic laws and avoid a ticket, deputy advises

Published 5:43 pm Thursday, July 21, 2016

Before new drivers get behind the wheel of a car, they serve themselves and others well to make sure they are up-to-date on the rules of the road.

Even experienced drivers may not know all the “dos and don’ts” of the highway, according to Lt. Kelly Cox of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.

For example, who knew that one can be cited for driving while impaired when operating a lawnmower, electric scooter, bicycle and even a tractor on a state highway?

“They are all modes of transportation and they all fall under North Carolina General Statute 20-138.1,” according to Cox.

Incidents of road rage aside, most skilled drivers know not to tailgate, or follow another vehicle too closely.

Cox reminds drivers of what he calls the three-second rule.

“With tailgating, you’re not supposed to be just looking at the car in front of you but several cars ahead,” he advised. “That way you can have a plan so you can make driver corrections as needed. In a perfect world, a car passes a fixed object, like a telephone pole, and a full three seconds should pass before you get to that object. That would give you ample time.”

Cell phone usage by drivers is always a hot topic, especially among teenagers, Cox said.

“If they still have their limited, provisional license they can only be talking with a parent or guardian while they are driving,” he said. “That’s just to keep them from being distracted.”

And most everyone has encountered those irritating drivers who barrel down the highway during inclement weather, with no headlights on. They are not only aggravating; they are also breaking the law.

“If it’s raining and you have to have your windshield wipers on, you need to have your headlights on, too, because visibility is limited during inclement weather,” Cox said.

And who hasn’t fallen behind a driver in the left lane of a four-lane highway who just doesn’t seem to be in any particular hurry?

It turns out those “slow pokes” may be breaking the law, as well.

“That left lane is primarily used for passing other cars,” Cox said. “If two cars are traveling side by side under the speed limit for an extended period of time, we can stop the car in the left lane because they are impeding traffic.”

And the old wives’ tale about driving barefoot in North Carolina? It turns out it’s not illegal after all, Cox said.

“We encourage anyone with questions about traffic laws to contact us, the highway patrol or their local law enforcement agency,” Cox added.

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office is also involved with StreetSafe Lifesaving Driving Experience classes on the local level. More on that program will be featured in this weekend’s Pamlico Life feature in the Washington Daily News.