Tail lights go out. Speed limits go unnoticed. No matter how careful you teach your child to be behind the wheel, new drivers can slip up on the road. To avoid a potentially stressful scenario, teach your teen how to react if they’re pulled over by a police officer. With these eight steps in their back pocket, they’ll handle the situation like a pro.
Step #1: Turn on your hazard lights.
The second you see the red and blue flashing lights in your rearview mirror, turn on your hazard lights. This tells the officer that you acknowledge you’re being pulled over and are simply looking for a place to park your vehicle. If you can’t locate your flasher lights under pressure, put your blinker on to signal your direction.
Step #2: Find a safe place to pull over.
It’s crucial that you pull over somewhere safe. Sometimes, you can easily pull into a parking lot to get off the road or,there is plenty of room on the shoulder of the road, you can pull over there. If you feel unsafe for any reason after you pull over, ask the officer if you can relocate. You don’t want to keep driving and have the officer think you’re ignoring him or trying to “make a run for it.”
Step #3: Roll down your window and turn off your car.
Once you’ve pulled your vehicle over, roll down your window and turn off your car. If it’s dark, you should also put on your dome light. Don’t do anything else at this time, as moving around or reaching for things could potentially look threatening to the officer. Simply put your hands on your steering wheel and wait for the officer to come to your window.
Step #4: Stay calm!
Getting pulled over is not the end of the world. Take a few deep breaths, and remind yourself that it happens to virtually everyone at some point. The more calm, cool, and collected you are, the smoother your interaction with the police officer will go.
Step #5: Be polite.
Whether you believe you did something wrong or not, it’s important to be civil when speaking with a police officer. Keep your answers short and simple, and remain calm and courteous. It’s best not to try and argue your case on the side of the road…it’s not the time or place. The court of law is the place to contest the ticket.
Step #6: Did you do something wrong? Apologize.
Police officers are people too, and sometimes acknowledging your wrongdoing and saying, “I’m sorry!” can go a long way. If the officer knows you realize your error and are remorseful, they may let you off with a warning.
Step #7: When asked for license, registration, and proof of insurance, tell the officer where it is before reaching for it.
Always remember, traffic stops are extremely dangerous for police officers. They’re often met with hostile and angry drivers, and gestures that might seem harmless to you can look like a threat in the eyes of an officer. When they ask for your license and registration, tell them exactly where these documents are located and where you’re going to be reaching. Tell them, for example, “My license is in my bag in the backseat, and my registration is in my glove box,” before you move to grab anything.
Be sure to keep proof of insurance in your car at all times. You can access your proof of insurance with Direct Auto & Life Insurance on your phone. Simply login to MyAccount and select your temporary ID card.
Step #8: Sign your ticket, if you receive one.
If you end are given a ticket, the police officer will make you sign it before letting you go. If you plan on contesting it in court, don’t worry—signing it doesn’t mean you agree with the ticket. It is simply an acknowledgement that you were pulled over and received the citation.
Step #9: When merging back into traffic, be extremely careful!
You might be flustered, angry, or upset after being pulled over. Take a few calming breaths and use caution when getting back onto the road. Don’t let your heightened emotions lead to a bigger problem! When returning to the road, be sure you turn on your signal when getting back on the road.
Getting pulled over can be stressful and scary for new drivers, and it’s important to equip your child with these tips. It’s ALSO important to make sure your young driver always has their driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. Call 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732) today to make sure they’re covered with the proper car insurance for teens!
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