Following traffic rules to the letter

So I’ve just begun learning to drive, and I’m wonder about your opinion on the necessity following the rules of the road to the precise letter.
For example, my driving instructor was telling me that you are supposed to stay stopped for 3 seconds at a stop sign. Later my dad was explaining to me that this can be a bad idea, because the cars expect me to stop, observe, and then continue fairly quickly, and might be taken off guard if I sit there.
I was also informed that I should have a turn signal on for 200 feet, or 6 houses length before turning. Later, my dad was explaining that this can also be a bad idea in cramped and residential areas because it’s difficult to tell if I’m planning to turn into a driveway, or pulling over, or turning into an intersection a little ways up or an intersection farther up, ect.
I have also heard that there are certain situations on crowded highways and such (I haven’t gotten there yet so I’m not sure what it’s really like) where driving the speed limit can be dangerous, and going a few MPH over is recommended to keep up with the flow of traffic.

There are probably more examples that I can provide of this. I know we are obligated to follow the rules of the road and keep the safety of others in mind, but I do wonder if sometimes it’s not better to take a few liberties with the more “unspoken” rules of the road in mind.

When you are learning to drive, do what the instructor tells you. Do not break any traffic laws. What you really need is experience driving and that only comes with time.

It is fairly impossible to follow the letter of the law when driving in traffic. For stopping - just stop long enough to come to a four wheel stop or you may be ticketed for a “rolling” stop. Of course, you have to make sure it’s safe to pull out into traffic and don’t pull out in front of someone at the last minute.
Turn signal at 200 feet - I agree with your dad. It can be confusing as to your intentions, especially if there’s a driveway to a business or shopping center before the intersection. It would be easy for another driver to assume you are going to turn into the driveway.
Going a few miles over the limit - yes it may be necessary to keep up with traffic at times. I am not talking about keeping up with the folks who are speeding excessively. In my area, the police won’t even bother with someone on the freeway who is going less than 10 miles over the limit. If you go too much under the limit on the freeway some places will give you a ticket for going too slow.
The most important thing is to look our for everyone else.

I agree… do everything the driver instructor tells you. Their direction is especially important to keep in mind when you are on the road test with the DMV tester. It’s fairly simple; once they tell you to “take the next left,” place your signal on right away and always shoulder check when turning or changing lanes. NEVER speed even by a mile or two which may fail the test (look out for school zones); it’s best to play it safe and do a couple miles under the speed limit. Once you are able to drive on your own, then you can drive more like your dad if you want.

It is important that you know the rules of the road as they are written. To do this, you must learn them and practice them. As others have said, with time and experience, you will learn how and when to adapt based on road conditions and the other drivers around you. If everyone simply followed the rules of the road, there would be little or no need to adapt, but you are sharing the road with all sorts of people. Keep your wits about you, and God bless us on the road!

This.
My daughter has her learners permit and basically this is what I tell her.

In our case, my wife and I are her instructors. I tell her: **you **are responsible for **your **car, not the guy who’s tailgating you or the one who wants you to slide through stop signs. If you get pulled over, the officer cites you, not the other guy.

Honestly, it sounds like your dad has some bad driving habits if he thinks that 3 seconds is too long to wait at a stop sign. 3 seconds? Come on, some would say even that is not long enough. I fear you will learn his bad habits. As others have said, you should listen to your instructor.

Sorry but you sound like a driver I’d follow behind wondering what the hold up is and would have to pass at the first given oportunity. 3 seconds is about 3 times too long to wait at a stop sign, unless one is in fact just learning to drive. If it’s a 4 way stop and no one else is there, what’s there to wait more than 3 seconds for? Most drivers aren’t interested in dilly dallying.

I think it’s perfectly fine to drive the speed limit. You won’t get a ticket for that, only if you go lower than the speed limit. Stay in the slow lanes. Let the other cars pass you. You’ll get there when you’ll get there. The other rules you mentioned most people don’t follow to the letter. I tend to adapt them to the situation. This comes with experience. You just get a feel for what’s necessary. Of course, when you spot a police car, you follow all the laws to the letter until they are out of sight.

:thumbsup: I’ve come to have a pretty good eye for spotting Crown Vics on the road. Sadly the new police cars are something different!

I don’t know what state you’re in, but I can speak for Illinois.

Illinois law says stop sign - a stop has to be momentary. A fraction of a second is good.

The rule for turn signals also depends on where one is turning.

Remember, we don’t live in a world of legal positivism. The traffic law does have leeway.

For example, say you’re in the left turn lane at a red light, waiting for your green left turn arrow. Sign posted: turn on green arrow only. To your left is a barrier preventing anyone from going into the opposite direction lanes. Traffic blocks the right lanes. An ambulance is behind you, lights on and sirens blaring. He approaches you in the left turn lane, and is now sitting on your bumper. He cannot pass you up, so you’re pretty much blocking his way. You can move forward and make your left turn even though you’re technically breaking a red light law. Just do so safely and carefully.

The ambulance’s right of way takes priority over the red light. And someone’s life is in danger here, so don’t stand in the way of lifesaving treatment. Otherwise, the ambulance is sitting on your bumper for three minutes to wait for the green left arrow to show up…lights on sirens blaring.

There are many such “exceptions” to the traffic laws. If you drive long enough, you’ll figure them out.

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