SPECIAL REPORT: Do you know the rules of the road?


We all learned how to drive when we were teenagers, but still, every day, many of us break the law while we’re driving.

We know not to speed, not to run through red lights and not to text and drive, but what laws do deputies see us breaking the most?

There are so many rules and regulations when it comes to driving.

Whether we’re breaking the law ourselves or we’re frustrated with another driver doing so, we all seem to forget what we learned in driver’s education classes many years ago.

“There are a lot of traffic laws that people know about, they’ve forgotten about, they just don’t obey anymore or maybe they don’t really know about,” Columbia County deputy Gary Owens said.

Besides the typical violations we all see every day, deputies across the CSRA are seeing a common problem that needs to stop.

“Today’s drivers are continuously distracted, not only by the things in their vehicles, you know, all the new vehicles are promoting us to be distracted, but anything that takes our eyes, our hands or our brain off our driving can cause us to be following too closely,” Owens said.

“You should stay two car lengths behind the car that’s in front of you. One little simple thing. A dog runs out in front of somebody or a deer runs out in front of somebody and you’re not able to stop,” Burke County chief deputy Lewis Blanchard said.

Another major issue is vehicles using the center turn lane, otherwise known as the “suicide lane,” for something other than making immediate turns.

“The most common way that people do that is they’ll come out of a driveway or an access point and they’ll cross two lanes of traffic and get in that central turn lane and want to build up speed to merge with traffic. That’s not what the lane is designed for. It’s designed as a decelerate to get you your left-hand turn,” Owens said.

Deputies say drivers are only supposed to be in the “suicide lane” for less than 300 feet.

In Burke County, Georgia, because it’s rural, the biggest issue is speeding, which can also cause problems for slow drivers.

“Even if you’re going the speed limit, you should be in the right lane except to pass. People should stay in the right lane. They might not be at fault because they’re going the speed limit and they’re in the left lane, but it does create a lot of problems with other people at times who are trying to pass or trying to get somewhere,” Blanchard said.

Another big violation is people using earbuds or headphones while driving.

“It’s pretty simple to just get in the car, keep the tunes going and be happy driving down the road, but you’re not able to hear things like horns, sirens, pedestrians, or certain things you can’t hear,” Owens said.

Of course, it’s pretty simple, but we all do it, and it’s illegal. Texting while at a red light.

“I’ll be honest. I see it all the time in my personal vehicle, but when I’m in a marked patrol car you hardly ever see it,” Blanchard said.

“The light just may turn green. How many times have you sat at a red light and hear honk, honk, honk, and you look up and the guy’s like, oh, throws his phone down and then goes,” Owens said.

How about drivers using their hazard lights when it’s raining heavily?

“All that really does is distract the other drivers. The drivers are not focused on the roadway, they’re focused on the danger you may present and they may have a collision,” Owens said.

Might seem like common sense, but deputies say the best way to stay safe is to just keep your eyes on the road.

“You have to remember you’re driving a several thousand pound vehicle. Anything that’s distracting, I don’t care if it’s eating, putting on lipstick, or I’ve seen people driving while reading a book,” Blanchard said.

Here are some other common traffic violations that deputies are seeing these days:Not sharing the roads with cyclists.Cyclists not following the rules of the road.Not staying in between the painted lines on roads, driveways and in parking lots.Not stopping when a school bus is stopped to let kids off or on the bus.Not staying in your lane as you’re making a left hand turn at a traffic light.Speeding and passing in a school zone.Not having your headlights on while it’s raining, even if it’s sunny outside.Not moving over for ambulances, law enforcement, or even construction crews on the side of the highway.

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