Keeping up with the changing rules of the road

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Have you heard the rumor that driving a black car on Sundays in Denver will get you a ticket or even arrested?

Although this purported “law” is actually more of an urban legend, it points to just one of many common misconceptions about driving and raises a bigger question: When was the last time you actually refreshed your knowledge of current traffic laws?

New traffic laws are passed with a frequency that most people probably don’t even realize, and it’s easy to forget about some of the smaller driving nuances you learned all those years ago in drivers ed class, too.

So, what can you do to ensure you’re up-to-speed with the latest rules of the road? Here are three tips for keeping pace with today’s regulations.

Check your ego at the (car) door

Everyone thinks new drivers are the biggest danger on the road due to their lack of experience. However, one of the biggest dangers to experienced drivers is complacency and overconfidence.

For example, when I begin a new drivers’ education class I ask the parents in the room what color a yield sign is. It’s shocking to see how many parents will say a yield sign is yellow, when in actuality the yield sign is red and white and has been since the 1970s.

This is a lighthearted example that addresses a more serious issue — people often tune out their own faults, especially with driving. Experienced and educated do not necessarily go hand and hand, and considering many people can’t even recall the correct color of a yield sign, it shows. Remember: Just because you’ve been driving for years doesn’t mean you don’t have something to learn, too.

Turn autopilot off

Have you ever driven to your destination and wondered how you actually got there? Chances are you’ve been driving the same route to work or through your town for long enough for it to feel like second-nature. How quickly we can forget that we’re actually maneuvering large hunks of metal and plastic weighing an average of more than 4,000 pounds.

A car travels 90 feet per second at 60 miles per hour. In a little over three seconds, your car has traveled the length of a football field. All it takes is three seconds — whether that be adjusting the radio, looking at a text or grabbing something from the backseat — to completely lose control.

No matter how comfortable you are behind the wheel, remember that it’s your responsibility to remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings.

Study like a student

Let’s be honest: When is the last time you actually reviewed the latest traffic laws? It’s probably been a while — and you’re not alone. But, a quick refresher can go a long way in preventing an accident or even a ticket.

The Colorado Driver Handbook provides easy-to-comprehend updates on the latest traffic laws and new regulations. Not only does it detail the rules of the road, but it also details potential penalties you could be facing for breaking traffic laws.

Consider taking advantage of refresher courses that many drivers’ education facilities offer, or simply spend a few minutes every couple of months doing your own research on new and even older traffic laws to ensure you’re obeying all rules of the road.

While it’s easy for driving to feel like second nature at some point, these tips can certainly serve as a starting point to keep yourself alert and up-to-date with the latest driving laws. By taking the time to review the most current set of regulations, as well as those that you may have simply just forgotten about over time, you’re ensuring your safety and the safety of others around you.

Russ Eldore owns 911 Driving School in Westminster, a driving school franchise providing education programs for teens, adults and mature drivers. He can be reached at westminster@911drivingschool.com.

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