How You Can Avoid Speeding Tickets on Summer Vacation

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Summer vacationers make ideal targets for traffic cops in resort areas, as tourists are typically anxious to get where they're going, unfamiliar with local speed traps and too far from home to challenge tickets in court.

"It's an unspoken rule in vacation spots that cops are directed by their supervisors to say: 'Hey, let's take advantage of this long weekend and write a lot of tickets,'" says Mark Schraeder of TheTrafficTicketAttorneys.com, a Los Angeles firm that specializes in fighting speeding tickets.

While the best way to avoid fines is to simply obey all traffic laws, Schraeder and other experts say vacationers who feel the need to speed can minimize tickets by taking a few simple steps. The key is to make sure your car doesn't stand out of the crowd if you pass a cop, who can only pull over so many vehicles in a given shift.

"You don't want to do anything that's going to draw attention to your vehicle," says Michael Klijian, a senior partner at the firm. "The more you stick out, the more you're going to be a target."

Here are four things the experts suggest you do this summer to minimize the chance of coming home with a speeding ticket to accompany your tan:

Research local ticketing practices
Do an online search for "speeding laws by state" before you leave home so you'll know if your trip includes driving through states or counties known for intensive traffic enforcement.

Klijian says you should assume that states you find assess heavy fines or "points" for speeding also ticket motorists aggressively, so you should plan to drive carefully while there.

"I wouldn't go so far as to alter your route to avoid those areas, but you should have a heightened awareness in states that are notorious for writing tickets ," he says.

Another tip: if a couple is traveling together and one person typically speeds more than the other, split up driving duties so the safer operator is behind the wheel when you're in high-enforcement areas.

Watch for common speed-trap locations
Klijian says police usually set up speed traps behind overpasses, at the top or bottom of hills, at the end of on-ramps and off-ramps or at sudden curves in otherwise straight roads. He recommends driving cautiously any time you approach such road features.

Another common trick is putting a speed trap right at the beginning of a zone with a lower speed limit than the one you were just in. So, Klijian recommends taking signs that say things such as "45 mph zone ahead" very seriously.

Drive a nondescript car
Klijian believes cops are more likely to pull over fancy sports cars than boring minivans -- not because high-performance vehicles necessarily go faster, but simply because they stand out in a crowd.

That's why the lawyer recommends you either leave your fancy car at home or drive super carefully if you take it on your vacation. "You just don't want to do anything to attract attention to yourself," Klijian says.

Other ways to attract unwanted attention include:
  • Driving a car that's dirty or has mechanical problems. Klijian says a cracked windshield or smoky tailpipe not only makes your vehicle stand out, but gives police probable cause to pull you over for a "mechanical violation."
  • Using a vehicle with controversial bumper stickers. Having a lot of political bumper stickers on your car is risky. Police have lots of discretion in deciding whom to pull over, and Klijian believes they might target you if they dislike your politics.

Avoid aggressive driving
Changing lanes frequently or passing other cars isn't necessarily illegal, but such maneuvers can attract a cop's attention.

"If you're making a lot of lane changes on the highway, an officer is going to notice that and check to see if you accelerate beyond the speed limit," Klijian says. "That's something you want to avoid."

You should also make sure you're not traveling noticeably faster than everyone else.

"If everybody is staying within the speed limit, you don't want to be going 10 or 15 mph over the flow of traffic," Klijian says.