The Most Common Traffic Tickets and Their Impact on Your Insurance Rates

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October, 2011 – Traffic violations are often seen as minor offences, things everyone does now and then that really are not a big deal. While they may be common and far from the worst violation of the law most people can think of, getting a traffic ticket can have a big effect on your insurance rates. The most common traffic tickets are the ones that happen every day; the small things people don’t think about until they are caught – or worse, involved in an accident. They happen because we are distracted, or in a hurry, or simply not aware of our surroundings, and most of us are guilty of these things at some point. The increase in rates you could see from getting a traffic ticket – not to mention the danger of an accident – make these common traffic violations worthy of our attention.

Going Too Fast – and Failing to Stop.

Two of the most common traffic tickets involve two sides of the same coin. Speeding is the number one most common traffic violation in Canada, and a Statistics Canada survey shows that 81% of Canadian drivers admit to driving over the speed limit at some point. Although the same study shows that people acknowledge the dangers of speeding, most people do not believe that their driving behaviours are a danger to other drivers. Of course, speeding can have many different meanings, from a minor violation to a very serious one. The average speeding amount is 12 km/hour over the limit, which in most cases is considered a minor speeding violation. Each province has different laws in relation to speeding, some of them very harsh. In Ontario, speeding by more than 50 km/hour can result in a fine of $10,000 and your vehicle may be impounded. In BC, you will see your car impounded for speeds of 40 km/hour over the limit or more. It’s important to know the laws in your province.

Another very common traffic ticket is for failing to stop at a red light. The two violations have a connection – they are both often a result of people in a hurry, going too fast to avoid being late. Both running red lights and speeding can result in hefty fines if you are caught, and once they are on your driving record, you could expect to see an increase in your insurance rates. Not only that, but both are common causes of car accidents, which can not only result in injuries or worse, but cause an even larger increase in your insurance rates.

Failing to Buckle Up.

In Canada it is the law that you must wear your seat belt when driving; not only that, but all passengers must wear their seat belt as well. You must also ensure that everyone under the age of 16 who rides in your vehicle is wearing their belt as well or riding in an appropriate car seat or booster seat. Again, each province makes their own laws regarding seat belt use, but the fines can be very serious. And the other consequences can also be serious – according the Transport Canada, almost 40% of fatalities in car accidents are a result of not wearing a seat belt.

The good news is that 93% of Canadians do use their seat belt on a regular basis, but it remains a common traffic violation. Buckling up is one of the simplest things you can do when you get in the car to avoid fines and injuries.

Driving Distracted, Driving Carelessly.

Although often thought of as the same thing, distracted driving and careless driving are somewhat different. When you get into your car, you may have many possible distractions around you: your cell phone, your car stereo, your children, food or drinks. The distractions caused by these things can take your attention away from the road at a critical moment, causing you to run a red light, swerve out of your lane or miss a traffic sign – all of which can get you a ticket or result in an accident. In most of the provinces it is now illegal to talk on your phone or text while driving, and the fines can be quite high.

While many of the other reasons we may become distracted while driving do not have laws specifically prohibiting them, each province does have laws requiring drivers to exercise due caution on the road. A ticket for careless driving can be given in a wide variety of situations, and isn’t always related to a specific distraction. If you are tired or lost in thought behind the wheel, you can easily lose focus on what you are doing. Careless driving tickets can be given for straddling lanes while driving, tailgating, cutting off another driver or many other types of driving behaviour. In some provinces, speeding can fall under careless driving laws. The consequences for careless driving can vary widely and be very serious. This type of ticket can also have an impact on your insurance rates.

Safe Driving, Better Rates.

Safety on the road should always be a priority; every time we get behind the wheel we take responsibility for the wellbeing of those in our car and those in other cars on the road as well as pedestrians. When a traffic ticket is handed out it means that a potential danger has been averted, but the recipient will pay for it in both fines and increased insurance rates.

The best way to keep your rates down is to be aware of these common violations and how easy it can be to slip into bad habits. By making safe driving your priority, you help keep your Insurance rates low and you make Canada’s roads a safer place to drive.

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