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Why Cops Touch Your Tail Light When They Pull You Over

Street Statistics

According to various online sources, as of 2014, there are at least 1.2 billion people driving their cars on the road internationally at all times. According to a variety of polls and surveys, the average American spends an average of 17,600 minutes driving in their cars each year. That equals to about 300 hours each year spent in a vehicle. People who commute spend even more time in their vehicles. This is part of the reason why people want to own nice cars with all the bells and whistles. If people are spending so many hours in their vehicles, they want to be comfortable.

Getting Pulled Over

All of these hours spent in a vehicle each year you are bound to get pulled over at one point or another. You may not be paying attention to your speed and you can get pulled over for going too fast. You could be daydreaming and miss a stop sign, a yield sign, or a traffic light. Many people get pulled over due to their vehicles. If you don’t know that you have a brake light, a tail light, or a headlight that is burned out, a police officer will pull you over to let you know. If you forget that your car registration needs to be updated, the police will pull you over for that as well. There are several reasons why you can get pulled over but the feeling that you have is always the same. You hate it. When you get pulled over it can delay your trip, you can get a traffic ticket due to the violation, and when you pull away after receiving your ticket, your nerves will likely be shot. This is because most police officers aren’t friendly when they pull you over. They also have certain routines that can make even the calmest person feel a bit uneasy.

The Tail Light Tap To Distract

Have you ever been pulled over and when the police officer walks over to your car and they tap your tail light? Just about everyone who has ever been pulled over can say that this has happened to them. This is a regular thing that most police officers do and they do it for a reason. It is actually a ritual and it goes way back to the early days when officers were policing the highways. This started before the invention of police cams. It was a sneaky tactic that most officers learned in the academy. It isn’t anything illegal or something that a crooked cop would do. They did this in hopes of catching passengers doing something wrong. If a driver is pulled over and they are holding drugs or guns, they will often try to hide the goods before the officer gets to the driver’s side door. Officers tap the tail lights in hopes of startling the driver while trying to hide these things so that they will stop for a second. This will give the officer a chance to catch them before the illegal items are hidden. If the officer doesn’t catch it in time, they will need to search the vehicle which can be dangerous for the officer.

The Tail Light Tap For Evidence

Tapping the tail light to startle the driver isn’t the only reason that police tap the back of a vehicle. Back when there were no dash cams and body cams, officers had to worry when pulling a car over. If the driver is hiding something that could get them in serious trouble where they could do jail time, they might choose to attack the officer or even kill them to stay out of trouble. To save their own lives, the officer will tap the tail light to leave their prints behind. This will leave evidence on the vehicle so that detectives have what they need to make an arrest.

Tapping a Light As a Ritual

Today, most police officers have dash cams, body cams, or both. Because of this, they don’t need to leave evidence behind but they still do it. For most officers, it is just a force of habit. Some officers have been doing this for 10 to 20 years each time they pull a car over. This equals thousands of cars. It can be hard to break out of this habit after so long.

Breaking the Habit

The job of a police officer is more dangerous today than it has ever been. It seems as though every day you are hearing about an officer-involved shooting due to a driver pulling a gun. Because things are so dangerous today, officers are advised not to tap the tail light. This is because if the driver is thinking about doing harm to the officer under the cover of night, tapping the tail light will let the driver know where exactly where the officer is so that they can shoot them or do other harm.

 

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