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Few things in life are more infuriating than being pulled over for something as small as a broken tail light. Often, something as simple as a light bulb makes the difference between being pulled over for going 5 mph over the limit, and not being stopped at all. It’s not always on the top of our minds to check over small details of our car each day, but developing a habit of checking to make sure your car is in proper working order can make a big difference when it comes to avoiding police encounters on the road.
In the amount of time it takes for your gas tank to fill while you’re at the pump, you can check over the most common things police look for when deciding to stop a car. First, turn on your headlights and make sure they are all working. The law requires that you have a minimum one light on either side of the front of you car, but if your car has any additional lights (fog lights, running lights) you can also be stopped if they aren’t functioning. Turn on your turn signal and ensure that the lights on the front and rear of either side of your car are also functioning. Also check to make sure that if your car has a light over the license plate, that that light is also operational.
While you’re walking around your vehicle checking your lights, take a look at the tread on your tires. The law requires that you replace your tires if the tread pattern on more than half of any part of the tire is worn away, of if any part of the external rubber on the tire is worn such that the internal threads or cables are exposed. Also take a look at your mirrors and windshield and make sure they are clean and free of cracks. Finally, take a quick look at your exhaust pipe while you’re checking your rear lights. Exhaust pipes are required to be secure, but can be jostled loose in many driving situations.
In addition to checking that your car is in good working order for driving on a regular basis, you should also be making sure that your car is clean. The law also requires that your lights, signals, mirrors, windows, and license plate be unobstructed, and an excessive build up of dirt can be enough to qualify as an obstruction. The same goes for snow or the messy build up of road salt and mud during the winter. You should always make sure to clear snow off of your lights, signals, mirrors, windows, and license plate before driving.