The Basics of Traffic Laws

Traffic laws are the rules that all road users must abide by to keep everyone safe. They vary from State to State but most are based on the Uniform Vehicle Code.


The purpose of traffic laws is to reduce accidents and injuries. Failing to obey these laws may result in a fine, penalty or even death.

Speed Limits

Every State and most municipalities have laws requiring drivers to operate their vehicles at speeds that are reasonable and prudent for the conditions. Most States require traffic engineering studies to determine appropriate and safe speed limits. Traffic engineers observe roadway conditions such as traffic patterns, adjacent land use, accident history, and design speed to evaluate the safety of a road segment. The most common approach is to set a limit based on the 85th percentile speed, which means that 85 percent of all drivers travel at a rate that is safe and 방문운전연수 reasonable for the road conditions observed.

The law requires that a motorist is presumed to have committed an infraction when his or her speed exceeds the legal limit. However, if you can prove that you drove at a reasonable and safe speed given the conditions on a particular day when you were driving over the limit, you may not be ticketed for the violation.

In 2014, after 12-year-old Sammy Cohen Eckstein was struck and killed on Prospect Park West in Brooklyn by a driver who was speeding, Families for Safe Streets worked with Transportation Alternatives to pass legislation lowering the citywide speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph. The change saved lives and reduced traffic injuries and fatalities. Research shows that arbitrary and unrealistic speed limits cause drivers to disregard the basic speed laws, increasing accident risks for everyone on the roads.

Stop Signs

The stop sign is a regulatory sign that indicates when a driver must yield the right-of-way to other 방문운전연수 traffic. It is a red, octagonal sign with the word “STOP” in white letters on its face. The stop sign is the only regulatory sign with an octagonal shape and red color, which helps to distinguish it from other road signs. The 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Signals allows for two types of stop signs and several acceptable variants, with the most common being the B2a, which uses a red octagon, a white stop legend, and a light yellow background. The word “STOP” on the sign can be in either English or the national language of the country using the sign.

In the US and Canada, a STOP sign is generally installed at an intersection where an engineering evaluation indicates that it is necessary to control vehicle conflicts. The criteria used to evaluate the need for a STOP sign includes traffic volume, restricted sight distance and reported crash history.

The placement of a stop sign must consider how it will affect traffic in the surrounding area, as drivers may seek alternative routes to avoid the sign. Also, a stop sign may create nuisance speeding, as drivers tend to accelerate quickly when they reach the sign. This can lead to higher overall speeds on local streets.

Lane Markings

Lines, symbols, and words painted on roadways give you important information about the road ahead. You must obey these markings to stay safe and control your vehicle.

Single broken white lines: You may cross these to change lanes, but only if it is safe and clear to do so. Do not cross a solid white line, even if it is broken. You must always stay within your lane.

Double solid yellow lines: You must not pass a vehicle that is moving in either direction across these lines (unless it signals you to do so). These are usually found on multi-lane highways without medians. If you are traveling in the leftmost lane on a two-way roadway, this lane is reserved for left turns only; you must not use it to pass other vehicles.

White lines with arrows: You may only turn in the direction indicated by the arrow. You must never drive straight through an intersection with a red arrow.

Other road markings include a dotted white line that ends in a bicycle symbol or the words BIKE LANE. You must not drive in this lane unless you are a cyclist. These markings are often seen where slip-roads (US: off-ramps) leave and join motorways and dual carriageway roads. They can also be used on one-way streets and highway off-ramps.

No Passing Zones

A No Passing Zone sign or road marking indicates a portion of the roadway where passing is not allowed. It’s typically used in areas where a driver’s view of oncoming traffic is limited – such as at curves. Passing in these areas can be extremely dangerous and may even lead to a head-on collision. If you get caught passing in a no-passing zone, you will likely be issued a ticket. The laws around no-passing zones vary by state and city, but the principle is similar. They typically prohibit driving over a solid yellow line. You can also find them in construction zones, intersections, and school zones. It’s important to follow these rules to avoid traffic violations, which are considered infractions, not misdemeanors, and go through a different court system from criminal cases.

No-passing zones are typically marked by either a solid or broken yellow line in the centerline of the road, and sometimes accompanied by signs. A solid line means that it’s unlawful to pass, while a broken line indicates that you can pass with care. These markings are designed to prevent reckless driving, which is the fourth-leading cause of traffic crashes. They can also be found on approaches to obstructions in the middle of the road (pedestrian islands, for example), railroad grade crossings, and at lane reductions.