People gg who get speeding tickets are often guilty of more than simply driving faster than the posted limit. Their chief offense? It's getting noticed in the first place. That's the first domino to fall in the ugly chain of events that leads to a piece of "payin' paper."

Here are some common sense ways to run under a cop's radar -- literally:

Drive within 5-10 mph of surrounding traffic. Cops are usually looking for drivers who are going noticeably faster than the other cars on the road. If you're within a pack of cars all going 5 to 10 mph over the limit, you've automatically improved your odds of not being the one that gets pulled over for a speeding ticket, even though you're all technically speeding. The cop has to pick one car; if you go with the flow of traffic, it probably won't be you. And it definitely won't be you if you don't speed in the first place.

Try to stay in the middle of the pack. If you're the lead car, logic says you'll be the first car to run past any cop's radar trap up ahead and get a speeding ticket. And if you're the last car, you'll be the one the police officer rolls up behind. That means the safest place is in the middle -- just like a gazelle fleeing a hungry lion by seeking safety in the middle of the herd.

Find a "rabbit." If you can't find a pack of cars going the speed you'd like to maintain, the next best thing is to find yourself a rabbit -- a solitary driver traveling the speed you'd like to drive that you can follow discretely, about 50-100 yards back. If there's a cop using radar, hopefully the rabbit will trip the trap and get a speeding ticket, not you. And if he brakes suddenly, you have just received your early warning in time to take defensive action.

Do not change lanes frequently, tailgate or otherwise drive aggressively. In addition to being rude and dangerous, you're just asking for a trucker or someone with a cell phone to call the cops and give them a description of your vehicle and license plate number. Always use your signals and be courteous to fellow drivers. It's safer, and it will help you fade into the background.

Avoid the fast lane. Use the far left lane to pass when necessary, but try to stay in the middle lanes when possible. Reason? If a cop is lurking in a cutout along the median strip (or coming at you from the opposite direction on a divided highway) the speeder in the far left lane is the one most likely to become the target. Drivers who get nailed with speeding tickets are often the type who rack it up to 10 or 15 over the limit and remain in the far left lane.

Watch for cutouts and modulate your speed accordingly. On many highways, there are cutouts in the median strip every couple of miles. Usually, you can see these in plenty of time to slow down a little bit in case there's a cop lurking behind the bushes ready to give you a speeding ticket.

Don't speed when you are the only car on the road. If you ignore this warning it's the equivalent of plastering a "ticket me!" bumper sticker on your vehicle. Even if you're only doing five mph over the posted limit, if there's a cop using radar, he's got nothing to look at but you. Lonesome speeding is even more dangerous in small towns, where radar traps and aggressive enforcement by cops can be common. And never speed late at night. Drunk-driving patrols are heavy and cops are more inclined to pull you over for any offense in order to check you for signs of alcohol. Don't give them a reason.

If it's OK legally, get a radar detector. Yes, they're expensive (good ones, anyhow). But a one-time hit of, say, $300 for a decent radar detector is cheaper than even a single big speeding ticket and the higher insurance costs that will come with it. Radar detectors are legal in most states and well worth the investment to avoid a speeding ticket.

And Finally:

If possible, drive a nondescript vehicle. It may not be fair, but it's human nature to notice things that stand out from the crowd. Bright-colored cars, those with loud exhaust or other pimped-out enhancements are the cars more likely to draw a cop's initial attention than ordinary-looking, family-type cars. Since the cop has to single out one car, which car do you suppose is the likely candidate for a speeding ticket? The bright yellow Mustang GT with 20-inch chrome rims? Or the silver Taurus?

If you do get pulled over while driving a fancy, high-profile car, your odds of getting a speeding ticket versus a warning have probably gone up. If you're driving a fast-looking hot rod, the cop is going to assume you use it and deserve a ticket more than the guy in a family-looking ride whose plea that he "didn't realize he was speeding, officer" comes off as more believable.

> In Pictures: Cars Least Likely to Get You a Speeding Ticket

Be aware that appearances count. That is, your appearance. If your appearance says, "Responsible member of the community," you're apt to get a more friendly response than if you look and act like trouble.

The worst possible thing you can do is combine all the no-no's listed above by driving a flashy car too fast, late at night when you're the only car on the road while looking like you just robbed a bank.

If you do that, expect a speeding ticket. And expect no mercy.