Thursday, March 27, 2008

Back in the Classroom … Traffic Law

Much of a police officer’s time is spent patrolling … in a car … on the street or highway. Chances are they are going to come across other vehicles and need to know the laws that govern traffic and motorists. That’s where the Texas Transportation Code comes in.

And that’s exactly what the cadets learned this week from Senior Trooper Eddie Carmon from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

“It’s impossible to cover all of traffic law in one week, so we hit the areas that they probably encounter in their day-to-day activities as officers,” Carmon said. “You can spend six weeks trying to cover traffic law and not get it all in. I’ve tried to – with the experience I have with the highway patrol – give them the info they’ll need when they get to their assigned station or agency.”

“No one wants to be stopped and be given a ticket for a violation they didn’t commit,” Carmon added. “With this class, I want the officers to make sure that any time they stop someone, they make sure they know that the person has violated a law and charge them with the proper violation.”

I know what you’re thinking … if Trooper Carmon can’t teach the class all the traffic law in one week, how should an officer expect the general public to know all the traffic laws? You need to remember the Texas Transportation Code covers a wide variety of topics. Look at it! There’s a link in the first paragraph in case you missed it.

“If you are in the motoring public, take it upon yourself to learn the traffic laws that apply to you and where you are driving your vehicle,” Carmon emphatically said. “Just because you don’t know the law, if you have committed an offense, you are accountable for it. When you sign the dotted line to get your driver’s license, you imply that you know the traffic laws and you’re held accountable for that. It wouldn’t hurt a person to every now and then pick up a driver’s handbook and refresh themselves.”

What is the most common violation an officer encounters that deals with the traffic laws?

“The speed limit,” Carmon said quickly and matter-of-factly. “The speed limit totally depends on what road you’re on: city street, farm-to-market road, state highway, interstate highway. People are surprised to know that you can drive 80 mph in some locations of Texas. Learn the speed limits of the areas you drive most often and pay attention to the posted signs. More people were stopped for speeding violations than any other violations.”

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