Published: September 13, 2013

police vehicleBy Dennis Moser, DSA President

The Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of Santa Clara County represents more than 400 deputies who work in the courts, on patrol and in investigations.

Being pulled over by a deputy sheriff in Cupertino, Los Altos Hills, Saratoga and unincorporated south Santa Clara County is probably not your idea of fun. Here are ten traffic tips that will not only help keep you safe, but make it far more likely that we’ll just drive our patrol cars right on by you.

1. BUCKLE UP: It only takes a couple of seconds. Belts will keep you from being flung violently around the inside of the car in a crash. They could save you from breaking the windshield with your face or being ejected through the sunroof, getting thrown out onto the road and run over. If we see you don’t have your seatbelt on, we will pull you over for that alone.

2. TAKE CARE OF THE DMV PAPERWORK: The DMV sends you back a small sticker for your license plate, a different color for each year, once you pay your registration fees. We are eagle-eyed when we check for the up-to-date colors and how they sync up with the month that’s on the other side of the license plate. It’s second nature for us.

3. STAY WITHIN THE SPEED LIMIT: We’re often asked how many miles above the speed limit someone can drive before they see our flashing lights behind their car. The answer is zero. This is because speed limits are set by traffic engineering. The posted speed is the safe speed. Speed limits are not just some random number.

4. DRIVE STONE-COLD SOBER: Save yourself the worry and danger and other people their lives by driving sober every single time. Completely sober designated drivers prevent injury, death and property damage routinely, so arrange for one before you go out if you’re planning to drink. We consider it a victory every time we take a drunk or drugged driver off our roads.

5. CHECK YOUR TRAFFIC MANEUVERS: Weaving or swerving within the lane. Driving much too slowly. Driving much too fast. Screeching to a halt at a stoplight, then just sitting there when it turns green. Driving with your headlights off at night. This is the way drunk and drugged people and just plain bad drivers drive. We stop them as quickly as possible before they hurt or kill themselves or a perfectly innocent stranger.

6. AVOID DANGEROUS RAGERS: Aggressive drivers drive right up beside you and scream at you. They may even try to run you off the road. Get out of their way. Have your passenger call 911 on the cell phone to turn them in to us. These out-of-control people are often impaired and sometimes armed, and we stop them as soon as possible.

7. MONITOR YOUR CELL PHONE USE WHILE DRIVING: Wireless smartphones are everywhere, but they are seriously distracting. People look at the screen. They concentrate on the call. They take their eyes off the road. They crash. They get hurt. They even die. Hold a cell phone up to your ear, and we’ll pull you right over. If you’re dialing mobile 911 at the time, the rule doesn’t apply.

8. SAFEGUARD YOUR CHILDREN: Get expert advice and buy the right car seat for your child’s size and age. Buy a new one; used seats are often are worn out and don’t work very well. We’ll pull you over in a heartbeat if we see an unbelted child.

9. KEEP YOUR CAR IN SHAPE: Did your windshield crack? Are your brake lights and license plate lights working? How about both headlights? Ask a friend to check the lights while you start the car. Get it all fixed, not only for your own and your family’s safety, but because we’re quite likely to stop you for it.

10. WATCH FOR WINDOW TINTS: Tinting the front window and the driver’s side window and the passenger’s side window after you buy your car is against the law. It keeps you from seeing the road very well. If the rear window is tinted, you’ll need outside rearview mirrors on both sides of the car. There’s a clear tint you can get for the front windows that protects from ultraviolet rays. We stop cars for illegal window tinting all the time.


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