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"What stop sign?" And other traffic excuses

  • Survey: Many drivers plead ignorance when pulled over
  • Men are more likely to claim they were helping someone

In 1970, Canada's Five Man Electrical Band famously sang, "Do this! Don't do that! Can't you read the signs?" More than four decades later, the answer is "no" for drivers trying to get out of traffic tickets.

According to a new survey from, people use "I couldn't see the sign" more than any other excuse when they're pulled over. Other popular attempts to wriggle off the hook include being lost or unfamiliar with the roads; not knowing a headlight or taillight was out; being distracted by a minor emergency in the car; and missing a turn or exit.

“By now, police officers can probably finish people’s sentences,” said Michelle Megna, managing editor of “I wonder if they wouldn’t appreciate a little dog-ate-my-homework creativity.”

Of the most popular excuses, women are more likely than men to use all of them except one. Perhaps surprisingly, men are twice as likely to blame a spilled drink or other emergency in the car for missing a stop sign or running a red light. Men also are more likely to say they were on their way to an emergency, helping someone else out, or not doing anything dangerous.

Megna says ultimately, excuses are still excuses, and "your driving record doesn’t have asterisks and footnotes."

As noted by a previous survey, traffic tickets can take a double bite out of your wallet. There's the fine you pay for the violation, and the possibility your insurance premiums will increase as a result. That should be incentive enough for anyone to follow the rules of the road.




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