Drive for an hour or two around your neighborhood, and you’ll quickly notice that plenty of drivers don’t understand basic road rules. It gets worse on the highway. That explains why there are accidents in many streets across the country every day.
While traffic laws differ from state to state, some cut across the board. That is, they remain constant, countrywide. Read on to learn more about America’s most confusing driving rules and what they mean.
1. Passing a Bus
The rule here is simple – when the red lights on a school bus flash, drivers from all directions must stop and wait for the lights to go out. But does this rule apply when it comes to city buses?
Not at all. You are allowed to go around. Be sure to proceed with caution, though, because a passenger getting off the bus might be trying to cross the street.
2. Entering a Traffic Circle
Traffic circles in the U.S. are designed to replace four-way stops and to keep traffic flowing. Strangely, driving through roundabouts appears to be a nerve-wracking experience for many drivers. Tension builds up if you’re not too familiar with the roundabout you’re about to enter.
There’s a secret nugget here – yield to your left and identify the exit. Don’t worry if you mess it up because you can always go through the circle again. Another secret here is to relax. Then whatever you do, don’t stop midway through the roundabout.
3. Merging onto a Highway
There’s a reason why the approach to a highway is called an acceleration ramp. You don’t have to over-speed. All you need to do is get into the flow. You can adjust your speed afterward.
Many drivers get unnerved by other speeding vehicles or the thought of accelerating before merging onto a highway. Remain calm, and you’ll have an easy time merging. If, for some reason, you fail to converge, pull onto the shoulder until you get a chance to join the traffic flow.
4. Making a U-Turn
You can always make a U-Turn anywhere unless there is a posted sign prohibiting making a U-Turn. Keep in mind, though, that you can’t make a U-Turn on a two-lane road.
Unknown to many road users, you can make a U-turn at an intersection with multiple lanes unless there’s a sign prohibiting you. Proceed with caution, though.
5. Overtaking a Cyclist
How should you overtake a cyclist if you come across one while driving on a curvy road? The general rule is that you should give the cyclist some space when you pass them – at least four feet, even if it means crossing the centerline.
Unfortunately, there are instances when you can’t give a cyclist space without compromising oncoming traffic. In such cases, yield to the cyclist until you can provide them with the space they need. Note that this same rule applies to vehicles that frequently stop, such as garbage and UPS trucks.
6. Making a Right On Red
You may have noticed that many roadways don’t prohibit motorists from making a right on red. You can go ahead and do so, but there is one big exception you should always remember – New York City!
Unless there’s a sign that says you can, don’t for whatever reason, make a right on red when driving in New York. Despite this rule, though, you must still come to a full stop to make a red right. In simple words, you cannot just cruise through and make a quick right turn without stopping.
7. Pedestrians in Crosswalks
It’s a no brainer – you must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. But what should you do if you can see pedestrians standing on a corner who doesn’t appear to be crossing the street? It is simple, slow down, then proceed with caution. You don’t have to stop for them until they step on the crosswalk.
8. Crossing Railroad Tracks
Stop when the lights are flashing, and the gate is down. This is the general rule in all states. Though, it so happens that there are many areas across the country that don’t have flashing lights or gates. Such sites are mostly in rural places where drivers drive without looking out for safety measures.
It doesn’t matter where you find yourself. As long as you’re crossing a railroad truck, it would be best to stop before you cross. That way, you’ll be able to check for an oncoming train or vehicle.
9. Waiting for a Drawbridge
Imagine living in an area near a water body where a drawbridge goes up at 7 AM during rush hour. This might seem like an inconvenience. What you may not realize, though, is that commuting on waterways goes before people on highways. In a nutshell, the boat has the right of way if it’s coming up the river.
It is also important to note that drawbridges work with schedules. Plan around the schedules or find out in advance what the program looks like if you are visiting the area for the first time.
You must’ve seen or read of incidents where motorists have brushed shoulders with law enforcement officers for refusing to let them inside their cars. The law differs from state to state on the issue. The best you can do once you’re pulled over is to cooperate with an officer.
Traffic rules can sometimes be confusing. You don’t have to beat yourself once you make what appears to be a stupid yet honest mistake. Messing up is normal. You must, however, always remember that safety begins with you. Don’t break a rule because everyone else on the road breaks it.
Lastly, be extra careful if you have a child or children on board. Follow simple rules like driving within the speed limits and driving when you’re sober. You don’t have to be a pro driver to follow these simple rules. You only have to be a reasonable one.
For comprehensive theoretical and practical driving lessons to help you master driving rules, enroll for Pierre Paul Driving School classes. Expert drivers here will take you through all it takes to become a pro on the road.