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Questions to the traffic safety board answered

January 15, 2010

As the author of the weekly articles on Vehicle and Traffic Law and traffic safety, I am often asked questions or made aware that there are driving restrictions that some believe to be traffic law but in reality aren't. So, here are a few questions and answers that you might quiz your family or friends about.

Driving barefoot is illegal! False. Although it may not be such a good idea to drive barefoot, NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law does not prohibit it.

It's permissible to pass a slow moving vehicle in a no-passing zone if it displays the slow-moving vehicle sign. False. You may never legally pass any vehicle by driving to the left of a solid yellow line on your side at anytime, no matter how slow it is traveling.

It is permissible to enter an intersection to prepare for a left turn if the signal is showing a green light, even if oncoming vehicles make it impossible to complete the turn. True. However, only one vehicle is permitted to do so. The vehicle must wait for a break in traffic to safely complete the turn or for the light to change, and then complete the turn.

To comply with a stop sign law, you must stop for at least five seconds. False. There is no time requirement, only that you must come to a full stop.

You are in compliance with the turn signal law if you turn it on before the traffic light changes. False. The law states you must begin to signal a turn or a lane change 100 feet prior.

Radar detectors are illegal in New York State. Partly true and false. They are allowed in cars but not in commercial vehicles. Also, they are illegal in many other states and in Quebec.

Wearing passenger restraints (seat belts) is more dangerous than not if your car goes into a pond or lake or catches on fire. False. Although it may take a few seconds longer to release the belt, the benefit is that it may keep you secured in your seat and prevent you from hitting your head on parts of the car and loosing consciousness. If you are unconscious, you have no chance to escape the vehicle.

It's illegal to drive with fog lights on all the time. False. Although they are not necessary or even beneficial unless there is fog or snow present, V & T Law does not prohibit driving with them illuminated.

The requirements regarding headlights are "at least two lighted headlamps on the front, one on each side, having sources of equal power"

The law also prohibits any light on a motor vehicle having more than 32 candle power.

If you have a question about traffic safety, vehicle and traffic laws, or wonder about some restriction you might think is law, send an email to me at or to the Traffic Safety Board at



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