5 Keys to Staying Safe during a Traffic Stop

National Police Training
May 14, 2013 — 2,091 views  
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Police officers make regular traffic stops, even in some of the country's busiest jurisdictions, due to the violation of traffic rules. Officers who are proactive utilize these situations to check for and detect a bigger crime in progress. While this increases the efficiency of these checks, it can also increase the amount of risk involved in these encounters. Drivers can sometimes get irritated and pose a potential threat for violence. But there are a few tips that an officer can follow to ensure maximum safety in these situations.

Approach from the Passenger Side

Whether the traffic stop is at night or during the day, approaching the car from the passenger side is one method that can increase your safety in the encounter. If the driver is planning to attack you, he will be expecting you to come toward the driver’s side. Approaching from the car's passenger side will give you a better look into the car and of the driver. Another benefit of this technique is avoiding being hit by a passing motorist while dealing with another driver.

Get out From Behind your Steering Wheel

If a person you had detained tries to assault you, get out from behind your steering wheel. Get out from the car as quickly as you can after you have stopped the car. While running the checks, stand next to the rear passenger side of your squad car while running the checks on your radio. If your squad car is equipped with a computer, stand at the passenger side of the car and access it.

If your computer configuration is such that you must sit in your car's seat, keep a close watch on the other car's driver at all times. If you notice or even get the slightest feeling of trouble, get out of your vehicle. If the driver starts running in your direction with a drawn gun, just drive the car into him to protect yourself.

Turn the Car's Wheels Toward the Left

Sometimes the squad car gets hit in the rear by another passing motorist. However, if you're standing outside your squad car, and you have kept the wheels of your car turned towards the left side, the squad car will probably roll towards the left on impact, and also away from where you are standing.

The Wall of Light

When making a traffic stop at night, utilize all the lighting available on your patrol car in order to create a 'wall of light' that can be used for concealment. This is a basic training instruction that every cop learns but does not utilize at times. Make sure you practice this every time you make a traffic stop at night.

Call it Out

As soon as you get the slightest notion of a crime or a sign of violence of any kind, make sure you call it out on the radio and ask for backup. If the individual knows that other officers are on the way and his details have been received by the officers, he will avoid making any rash moves or attempting any sort of violence.

Many officers have been injured or even lost their lives during routine traffic stops. Following these key points will ensure you are safe during an encounter.

National Police Training