Do You Know Why I Pulled You Over?
Most of us have had the experience of merrily motoring along in our car only to have our pleasant day interrupted by the stomach-tightening sight of flashing lights in our rearview mirror. As bad as you feel when you see those red and blue lights, you should realize that a traffic stop is no picnic for the officer either. Believe it or not, routine traffic stops are one of the most dangerous duties a police officer has. FBI statistics report that, nationwide, more police officers are killed during vehicle pursuits and routine traffic stops than in almost any other situation.
What can you do to make the situation a little less stressful for both you and the officer? We have a list of do’s and don’ts we hope you will find helpful:
DO pull over as soon as possible and as far to the right as possible. The officer will appreciate not having to dodge traffic while speaking with you. Turn on your emergency flashers and turn off your radio (the officer is not interested in competing with Rush Limbaugh, Carrie Underwood or Metallica for your attention).
DON’T open your door or attempt to exit your vehicle. The officer may view this as a threatening action. Sit calmly until the officer reaches your vehicle.
DO roll down your window and keep your hands on the wheel until the officer reaches your vehicle. He needs to see your hands at all times in order to be comfortable. If it is dark outside, turn on your dome light if your vehicle has one.
DON’T fumble around for your license and proof of insurance until the officer is beside the vehicle. The police officer cannot tell what you are reaching for until he is next to you. When you do move, be calm and deliberate.
DO follow the officer’s instructions and answer all questions politely. Address him as sir (or ma’am if the officer is female). Tell the officer what you are going to do before you do it. If your proof of insurance is in your console, tell the officer before reaching into your console to retrieve the document.
DON’T demonstrate a bad attitude. Be pleasant, respectful and cooperative. Your attitude alone may allow you to leave with nothing more than a warning and a “have a nice day” from the officer.
DO understand that our law enforcement officers are there for your protection and for the protection of those around you. Being pulled over is not always a bad thing. The officer may simply wish to notify you that one of your turn signals is malfunctioning or that your gas cap is hanging alongside your car. Yes, we have all seen speeders on the side of the road receiving well-deserved tickets. We have also seen officers risking life and limb to help a lady change a tire during rush hour traffic or sit with a family whose vehicle has broken down while waiting for a tow truck and a ride from friends.
Treat our law enforcement officers with the respect they deserve and you may be surprised at how your next traffic stop turns out.