Turn on Hazard Lights or Not?

Hazard Warning Lights in rain - Copyright: driversprep.com

Should You Turn on Your Hazard Lights?

You should turn on hazard lights:

A.   Whenever you are driving slower than the flow of traffic.
B.   Whenever it is raining hard and you can barely see the road ahead.
C.   Whenever you are double parked.
D.   None of the above.

This is not a real DMV exam question, but it should give you something to think about. Are you one of these drivers that turn on emergency flashers in a heavy downpour or think it is a good idea to use hazard warning lights every time you driver slower than the rest of traffic?

If you are, you are not alone.

But here is a sobering fact that might come as a surprise to you. Driving with your emergency flashers on in these situations is illegal in many states – and for a good reason.

Emergencies Only

In states where driving with activated hazard lights is allowed, this is usually limited to emergencies and hazards only. If there is an unexpected accident ahead, and you need to warn others, then slowing down and activating hazard lights may be allowed. If your steering or brakes fail, you should also warn others with your hazard lights until you can come to a stop in a safe location.

Otherwise, you should refrain from using your emergency flashers, unless you have stopped because of an emergency on the roadway or on the shoulder, and your vehicle may interfere with traffic.

For your DMV test and future safe driving, make sure you know the law in your state. When driving from one state to another, you should check the laws before you embark on your trip. Or to be on the sage side, just be very restrictive when it comes to using emergency flashers.

Double Parking

Of course, double parking is always illegal. Turning on your emergency flashers while you leave your vehicle does NOT make double parking legal.

Get More Information about the Laws in Your State

Read more about when to use emergency flashers

Proof of Insurance on Your Phone

 

E-card - driversprep.com

Tired of keeping track of that piece of paper that shows that you have an auto insurance? More and more states allow you to use an electronic version instead.

Kentucky is the latest state to clear a bill that allows drivers to keep an electronic version of their auto insurance card to show proof of coverage. This bill was signed on March 22.

When pulled over, you can show proof of insurance with a smartphone app or PDF copy of your policy.

When you buy auto coverage online, you get proof of insurance immediately. After a renewal, updated information is sent directly to your smartphone. This means you have the most up-to-date version handy at all times.

Both Arkansas and Wyoming have cleared similar bills this year. Other states that allow electronic proof include: Alabama, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana and Minnesota.

Close to 20 states will probably consider new bills or regulations in 2013.

Insurance companies are also catching up. State Farm offers digital identification cards via its “Pocket Agent” app and Geico also offers a digital ID card via its mobile app.

Thou shalt not steal

Illustration by Roman Sotola

Illustration by Roman Sotola.

 

On January 8, I discovered that usdriving.net, a website that also offers free practice tests for your driver’s license exam, was using material from https://driversprep.com.

It actually turned out that a major part of the content on this website was collected from our site under a long period of time. It included exact copies of questions, answers, and images. Many of these images are created with exclusive rights for driversprep.com. From my investigation, usdriving.net had little, or no, original content on their site.

We immediately informed the website owner and later sent a Cease and Desist Letter. When the owner did not respond we continued with a Notice of Infringement, a.k.a. Take-Down Notice, to the webhosting company in Singapore.

For anyone in the same situation I strongly recommend reading the following blog post on lorelle.wordpress.com: What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content. As the title suggests, it is not a question of IF your content will be stolen, it is a question of WHEN.

With services like tumblr.com, pinterest.com, facebook.com and other sites, your intellectual property can spread to numerous web pages in a very short time, and unless this is what you want, you really need to prepare for that situation.

If you are a professional photographer or writer, I strongly urge you to consider what you would do when your material is used by somebody who may profit from your work.

Driversprep.com has always had a copyright notice at the bottom of each page. This is not necessary to protect your rights, but it is informative and somewhat strengthens your protection in case of a suit.

An explanation of this copyright has also always been offered on our “About” page. After this infringement, we decide to also update and strengthen the wording in our terms and conditions.

The content of driversprep.com is basically stored in a local database. Since the site started in 2007, this content has been under version control.

Initially CVS was used as the version control tool. In the last two years we have used git. Both give you a way to control changes over time. There are several other tools like CVS and git available.

Having our database under version control means that we can recreate the contents of our site from any point in time.

If you have a similar site, and do not use version control, I think it is a good idea to learn a bit about this.

I addition, I suggest that every web site owner take regular snapshots of his or her web site and make sure the snapshots have a correct date stamp. Save these over time.

In copyright suits, it is usually about which side and set of evidence the judge or jury accepts or believes more. Meaning, the better you can document your case, the better chance of winning.

I do NOT recommend using DMCA.com.

In fact, this site makes me think more of a huge scam. After signing up as a Pro member, I found that this site offers extremely little features or help. I mean, there is no need to pay for letter templates that are actually better elsewhere (see lorelle.wordpress.com).

Their offer to scan your website did not work at all for driversprep.com. When we filed a support case it was stored as a “Take down Case” and not answered.

After a third support case, a refund request, and two days waiting, I still have not got an answer from these people. In fact, I cannot remember that I have ever seen such poor support.

Above all, I seriously doubt that DMCA.com will be able to help if you have some real problem with a violating website.

My two cents? Follow the advice on lorelle.wordpress.com and you will be much better off!

In cases of large amounts of phrases based on facts, like in our case, and when the violating website claims both ownership and rights, I suggest legal counseling.

Facts and ideas cannot be copyrighted, but how they are expressed, used and structured can. With good documentation, you have a very good case.

On January 11, usdriving.net removed the material.

If you want more reading on copyright, I can recommend this article: 10 Big Myths about copyright explained

New Cell Phone Law in Wisconsin

Young Woman Using Cell Phone While Driving

 

As of today, November 1, drivers with an instruction permit or probationary license are prohibited from using a cellular or other wireless telephone while driving.

In Wisconsin, anyone learning to drive must first obtain an instruction permit. You are eligible for an instruction permit at age 15-1/2. A probationary license can be issued if you are at least 16-years-old and have held an instruction permit for six months.

In addition to new drivers, probationary licenses are required for the following:

  • Drivers licensed in other countries.
  • Persons with suspended or revoked instruction permits or probationary licenses.
  • New state residents who have fewer than three years of driving experience.
  • New state residents under the age of 21.
  • New state residents who surrender a license that is expired for more than six months.


Wisconsin law also prohibits texting while driving
for all motorists of all ages. That law went into effect in December 2010.

32 states and the District of Columbia have already banned all cell phone use by novice drivers.

 

Read more: www.dot.wisconsin.gov

When Can You Drive Faster Than the Speed Limit?

Driving faster than the speed limit

 

In general, it does not matter what your reasons are. Driving faster than the posted speed limit is illegal in all states.

The posted speed limit is always the maximum speed permitted on that particular road. Sometimes you must drive slower than the posted speed limit. You may never drive faster than what is reasonable and prudent under current conditions. Reduce speed when weather is bad, or when there are potential hazards on the road.

In Minnesota, the speed limit on two-lane highways with a posted speed limit of 55 mph or higher is increased by 10 mph when the driver is lawfully passing another vehicle in the same direction.

 

What is the Basic Speed Law?

Reduce speed in bad weather

 

A basic speed law says that you must travel at a speed that is consistent with existing driving conditions. These include weather, traffic, and road conditions.

Or put in other words: No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions.

Such a basic speed law is used in all 50 states.

Remember, it does not always matter what the speed limit sign says.

In bad weather, you must reduce speed. If there are potential hazards on the road, you must also drive slower than the posted speed limit.