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Driving Edition of “I Was Today Years Old When I Learned”

by Lee Hendrickson 2 years ago in list
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Straight Answers to the Most Common Misconceptions About Driving

Whether it was your overactive childhood imagination at work, a white lie your parent told you, or something you just never realized, there are so many things we all didn't know we didn't know. When it comes to driving, something most people do every day, you might be surprised at what you don't know.

When did you find out that turning on the interior light isn't illegal, or discover that there's a little holder for your gas cap? For many, the answer is "today years old."

In fact, a recent study found that nearly 40% of adults don't know the basic "rules of the road." They would fail the knowledge section of their learner's permit test if they had to retake it. The worst part, the passing score is usually only 80%.

Read more to learn about the most common misconceptions about driving.

Turning On the Interior Light Is Not Illegal

It isn't illegal to drive with the interior light, in any state. This is one of those white lies that parents tell that creeps into adulthood. While the light itself isn't illegal, it can be distracting and impair the driver's vision, which is dangerous.

Turning on the light and then taking your eyes off the road is distracted driving. Taking your eyes off the road for just 5 seconds while driving at 55mph is like driving the length of an entire football field.

The reflection of the interior light on the windshield can make it difficult for the driver to see clearly. So while it's not illegal, the interior light should only be used safely and for a good reason.

The Speed "Grace Zone" Is Not Real

If you've ever thought, "I won't get pulled over for going under 10 mph over the speed limit," you are wrong for so many reasons. The posted speed limit is the speed limit if you drive any amount over the posted speed you can get a ticket.

Speeding doesn't even really save a significant amount of time. Going 75mph when the speed limit is 65mph:

  • Saves you 3.6 minutes on a 30-mile trip
  • Saves you 6 minutes on a 50-mile trip

Grace zone or no grace zone, it's just not worth the risk. According to NHTSA for more than two decades, speeding has been involved in approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities.

There's a Built-in Holder for Your Gas Cap

Based on the thousands of retweets and memes, not many people knew this. It's not on every car and solves a problem not many people driving today remember.

Gas caps weren't always attached to your car. They used to be completely removable. This led to lots of lost gas caps. The solution was to attach the cap to the vehicle with plastic coated wire. The hanging gas cap will scratch the car over time, so hooks, clips, and other methods of securing the cap were added to the door of the gas cap.

Driving in Headphones is Illegal (In Some States)

Currently, it is entirely illegal for drivers to wear headphones in many states. The following states either prohibit headphones and earbuds completely or have a significant restriction:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Many states enforce these laws through fines. In Florida, driving with headphones is punishable by a $150 ticket. Driving with your headphones is usually accompanied by cell phone use. Using your cell phone while driving is incredibly dangerous. If you cause an accident because you were distracted by your phone, in many states, you are automatically "at-fault." This means you could be held financially responsible for any property or personal injury.

How Four-Way Stops Work

Not sure how four-way stops work? The basic rule is surprisingly simple, first come, first served. The first car which arrives at the intersection goes first. Unfortunately, the simplicity ends there.

What if another car gets there at the same time? This answer is where most people get confused. It depends on the position of the vehicles.

When multiple cars arrive at the same time and are next to each other, yield to the car furthest to your right.

  • If three cars arrive at the intersection at the same time, the car furthest to the left must yield until both vehicles to the right have gone.

If you arrive at the intersection and there is a car across from you, the car going straight has the right of way.

  • If you are both turning the car going right has the right of way.

Driving Barefoot Isn't Technically Illegal

Although driving barefoot isn't technically illegal, the fact that there are no rules against shoe-less driving doesn't make it a good idea. In California, you can even ride a motorcycle barefoot - though it is at your own risk.

Flip flops, bare feet, and high heels are all footwear choices that can impair driving. In California, if the fact you aren't wearing shoes causes an accident, you could be charged with reckless driving.

So You Thought You Knew How to Drive But...

Even if you’ve been driving for years, you may not know as much about driving as you think you do. But it’s not your fault if your parents taught you misinformation, or if some things simply weren’t covered in your Driver’s Ed class. And of course, it’s never too late to learn more about driving, so there is no shame if you were “today years old” when you learned some of the things above.


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Lee Hendrickson

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