An average of three in every ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some point in their lives. The driving behaviors associated with aggressive driving - speeding, red light running, following too closely, and others - cause hundreds of crash-related deaths and thousands of injuries each year. Lap/shoulder safety belts, when used correctly; significantly reduce the risk of crash-related fatalities and injuries. Traffic stops often result in the identification of criminals who are suspected in other crimes.
To effectively address these public health and safety issues, law enforcement agencies across the country enforce traffic laws. Traffic law enforcement is a time proven method of: increasing pedestrian safety, seat belt, child safety seat, and helmet use, reducing the incidence of impaired and aggressive driving, and increasing the apprehension of dangerous criminals.
However, in recent years, the public has been made aware of incidents that have occurred between citizens and law enforcement during traffic stops. Most of these incidents were positive and did much to advance the public's perception of law enforcement. Some incidents were negative and disturbing, and created public mistrust.
If you are a motorist, here are some ways to improve your traffic stop experience:
- Invoke the "Golden Rule" and treat the officer the way you would like to be treated.
- Remember that you are required to cooperate with all reasonable requests that law enforcement personnel make.
- If an officer signals for you to stop, remain calm and pull over safely.
- Be prepared to produce your driver's license and other documents, based on the laws in your jurisdiction.
- Remain in the vehicle unless the officer tells you otherwise.
- Keep your hands visible.
- If you are stopped by a non-uniformed officer in an unmarked vehicle, you can ask the officer for identification.
- If you believe the reason for the stop is vague or unclear, you can ask the officer for details.
- If you are uncomfortable about stopping because an area is deserted or not well-lit, explain this to the officer and ask if you can proceed to a more populated or better illuminated place.
- Procedural questions and complaints about an officer's treatment of you can be forwarded to the officer's supervisor.
Don't speed, drive aggressively, or drive while you are impaired. Always wear your seat belt and correctly buckle up any children who are riding with you. Yield to pedestrians when they have the right-of-way. If you follow all traffic laws, you reduce your chances that the police will stop you.
Try to find the "positive" in the traffic stop. Use the information you have received to make yourself a better motorist.