6 Driving Rules That You Probably Break Every Day

Traffic stop
Traffic stop | Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images

How quick are you to admit your driving mistakes while behind the wheel? Confessing to adding too much salt while whipping up your portion of Thanksgiving dinner is one thing, but admitting that you aren’t a good driver, well that’s a whole different serving of stuffing altogether.

Many like to act like they’re hot shit in traffic, and it’s really rare to run across someone who will actually admit their flaws while behind the wheel. Captaining any form of craft, may it be by air, sea, or asphalt, comes with a strong feeling of pride and responsibility, and any misdeeds committed while at the helm can be equal parts embarrassing and dangerous, so you can see why people aren’t quick to admit their driving shortcomings.

But regardless of whether you may admit it or not, just driving to the store and back will reveal numerous traffic offenses if one were to actually take the time to look for them. As a commuter car culture, we have grown so accustomed to bending the rules or looking out for cops in order to flat-out break them that the level of guilt versus embarrassment associated with a citation is actually far less than one might think.

Nevertheless, we all have a reputation to uphold, even when everyone around you on the interstate can see that you are violating multiple laws at once. Here are six commonly broken traffic laws we see everyday, many of which people do without a second thought or any form of remorse.

1. Turn your lights on

Adaptive headlamps
Adaptive headlamps | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

This law varies per state, but most people tend to overlook the necessity of turning on their lights when it is raining. With the advent of adaptive lighting, a lot of modern cars will do this automatically for you, but just to play it safe we strongly suggest flipping them to the “on” position anyways. The same goes for people driving at night with their daytime running lights on, not knowing that their tail lamps and running lights aren’t illuminated, and putting themselves and others in danger in the process.

2. Stop at stop signs

Stop sign
Stop sign | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Stop signs are often treated like yield signs in this country, and as a culture we have grown so accustomed to rolling through them that the only time someone actually thinks about it is when they notice a policeman watching nearby. While not making a complete stop isn’t the most egregious offense on this cheat sheet, there are plenty of places where taking a moment to judge the gap should be absolutely mandatory.

3. Only use the left lane to pass

Cars driving on the freeway
Traffic | Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

We covered this last year, when certain states started cracking down on left lane slow pokes, because it’s one of the most common offenses that the fuzz never seems to enforce. By law, the left lane should only be used for passing, or in certain urban environments for carpooling purposes. So if you aren’t attempting an overtake or carting some co-workers to the office, get your ass back into the right lane and stop holding up traffic!

4. Put your phone away

This video pretty much sums up the kind of scenario we hear about all too often on the nightly news. Even though our cars have the ability to be more in sync with our handheld devices than ever before, people don’t always go through the trouble of hooking them up in order to get eyes-free updates. Remember, you are riding in a multi-ton, potentially explosive road rocket that has been loaded with glass and metal, and all it takes is one moment of distraction for you to clip a barrier and deploy a team of airbags.

5. Pedestrians have the right of way

Cell phone pedestrian sign
Cell phone pedestrian sign | Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

If you find this sign to be strikingly ironic, that’s probably because it is in every way. Millions of pedestrians hit the crosswalk every day, noses buried deep within the glowing confines of their phone, and if there isn’t a red light accompanying a sign like this, chances are drivers won’t stop either. Every week I witness numerous pedestrians nearly getting clipped as they attempt the potentially lethal voyage across a crosswalk, because no one seems to remember that those on foot have the right of way when white lines and a sign are both present.

6. Turn on your signal light

LED lights
LED lights | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Our last traffic offense is perhaps the most annoying and widely disregarded driving violation in the world. Not signaling properly isn’t just dangerous, it’s also straight up disrespectful to your fellow commuters. Without signals, we have no idea which direction you are going, so if you suddenly jump right in front of me without warning, you’re more than likely going to get a heavy handed helping of my horn. Flipping a signal stalk still is one of the easiest and safest things you can do on the open road, so unless you want to be held responsible for causing unnecessary stress and a potential pile-up, use your damn blinker.