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Questions to ask before a Road Trip

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A few years ago I was on a road trip traveling through a nearby state when I suddenly realized I was speeding. I had come around a curve, going down the hill and picked up speed. Before I knew it, I hit 83 mph and was breaking the law. I immediately backed off and self-corrected but it was too late. I had caught the attention of the local law enforcement and was pulled over. I expected to simply get a speeding ticket and a stern warning but found myself in a potentially much worse situation. Turns out that there are some questions I should have asked before I accidentally started speeding in a new state.

Did you know that there are some states that consider anything over 80mph to be reckless driving and an act subject to immediate arrest, a misdemeanor on your record for the rest of your life, significant points on your driving license and several thousand dollars in fines? My ignorance of the law in that state almost got me in some serious trouble.

Questions to ask before a Road Trip

Since we love to travel and take long road trips with the family, I figured I should share some resources and help you ask some important questions so you don’t end up in a precarious situation like I did.

What are the Speed Limit Laws?

Just because I didn’t know that over 80 mph was considered reckless driving, I was still subject to the full penalty of that law had the officer felt it was needed. In that moment, I realized how serious this could have been. I am very fortunate that he chose to educate me instead of punishing me to the full extent of the law. Before you take off to visit a new state, read up on the laws.

And in case you are wondering the results of my speeding adventure: I was given a stern warning and let go with just a minor ticket for a travel violation. But I promise you, I have not let myself get more than 2 miles over the speed limit since that experience!

How to find the laws by state:

  • You can do a quick internet search using keywords like “speed limit laws in Kentucky”.
  • Read this article to get an overview of which states have the strictest laws on reckless driving.

Are the car seat laws different?

Of course, everyone should be wearing the proper seat belts, but states have different laws about the use of car seats for children. Do a little research so you will know what that state thinks is the proper age for children to be in different car seat restraints.

Can I use my phone while driving?

Let’s face it. Many people use the time spent driving to catch up on phone calls with family and friends. While some states allow the use of cell phones, there are others who will pull you over and ticket you if they see you holding a phone. Save yourself the trouble and know which states allow talking, which ones only allow hands-free calling and learn the laws before you go.

Of course, no one should be texting while driving no matter what state you are in! Arrive safe!
Messages can wait!

Are Radar Detectors allowed?

Some people like to keep a fuzz buster or radar detector in their car to help remind them to stay under the speed limit;  but not all states allow them. If you choose to use a radar detector, know the law before you enter the state.

What are the Concealed Carry Laws?

If you choose to exercise your right to carry a concealed weapon when you travel, then be knowledgeable about the laws for each state you will enter. Does the state recognize your license? Are there different laws that you need to be aware of before crossing the state line?

Are there Toll Road?

Many states still have toll roads that require you to pay to access the highway. But not all toll roads use the same payment system. Some require coins, others are more expensive and require you to use a credit card. There are even some bridges that just snap a picture of your license plate and send you a bill in the mail. Do a little research before you hit the road so you will be prepared for toll roads.


Most of you are like me. We follow the law and try our best to be responsible citizens. But sometimes we find ourselves in a situation like I did on the side of the road, just inches away from an officer with a potentially life changing situation in play. Even though this was my first offense, in that state it was enough that I had broken the law. That officer could have changed my life forever. Be smart and know the laws so you don’t accidentally end up in a bad situation.

Have you ever learned a lesson like this the hard way? Got any stories to share about how important it is to know the laws of the states you visit? I’d love to hear!

Follow #williamsonthego for more of our travel adventures!

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13 Comments

  1. Thanks for the tips. We always try to pay close attention to posted speeds and traffic signs but I never really thought about checking the laws before going to different states. I will be checking from now on.

  2. its true you dont really think about these things how different laws & rules are in other states very enlightening read

  3. This is really good to know since I am newly divorced and will be traveling with the kids alone from now on; thanks so much for making me feel more safer and smarter!

  4. I didn’t realize many states still have toll roads, and you need to carry cash for them. Now I check before I leave for trips, just in case! Good tips!

  5. All very good questions! Also do I have a first aid / survival kit in the car? Are there rolls and if so how much in case they’re cash only?

  6. These are some great questions, my husband & FIL go on a cross country hunting trip every few years. I’ve never really thought of finding out these laws for other states.

  7. It is very important to be knowledgeable when traveling. You need to know the area you are going to and traveling through.

  8. Very important things to know while traveling outside your state. I just always assumed the laws were universal.

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