Traffic Stop: How to act – how to survive

Preparing for the unpredictable

Other than responding to domestic fight calls, traffic stops are the most dangerous part of a cops job. This article is NOT about cops surviving a traffic stop.

It’s about YOU, John Q. Citizen!

I know what you’re thinking. Why is Bart, the veteran cop blogger guy, trying to teach me how to survive a traffic stop? Because one life lost on either side is unacceptable.


Most of this is common sense.

No-brainer stuff. I’m not talking about the career criminal bad-guy who doesn’t want to go back to jail. No, this article is meant for everyday folks who need to know what certain behaviors to absolutely avoid when pulled over by a cop.

And parents, please share this with your teen drivers!

Note: this post contains affiliate links

(I wish sittercity was around when my kids were younger. They definitely take the stress out of finding one.)

When we light you up, pull over as soon as practical

Yes, we allow you a few seconds to get over your ego and denial that this is really happening. Please do not continue on for 3 miles trying to find a lit parking lot or a safe spot to pull over. There are always exceptions but as a rule, pull over immediately.

It makes us nervous when you don’t.

Also, this is not the time to be making frantic movements when at first seeing our lights and hearing the customary womp, womp! Please, these movements make us think you are hiding something or at worse, arming yourself.

I also highly recommend that you put the cell phone down during a traffic stop. There is nothing more irritating to a cop then when a driver is blathering away on their phone during a stop.

A phone can also look similar to a gun if the officers vision is compromised and your actions have already put him/her on high alert.

Before you start planning a protest march over that last statement remember we are talking about minimizing the risk here.

Oh, and we can see your best ninja moves trying to put your seat belt on while pulling over. Nice try.

When we approach, relax and take a deep breath


***DO NOT, under any circumstance, get out of your car when pulled over on a traffic stop. Unless of course you have a warrant on file and plan on running from us.***

Put your hands where we can see them. Preferably on the steering wheel.

Remember, as police recruits in the academy, cops are drilled and shown endless videos of officers shot and killed on traffic stops. We don’t know you. And we have yet to see a video where a cop was killed by a drivers feet. (I’m sure its probably happened in Russia but lets stay on topic here)

If you have a gun (legally) in the vehicle, make sure you tell the cop this. And please do not reach or lunge for the gun. As Forrest Gump so eloquently pined, “that’s all I have to say about that”.


Follow our instructions during a traffic stop

Do not make furtive movements like reaching under your seat or digging through your center console during a traffic stop. If you really have your license under your seat, tell the cop exactly what you are doing. Preferably before you do it.

Also, this is not the time for witty sarcasm or rhetorical questions like asking if we have anything better to do. Remember, our goal here is to keep our contact short and to the point. This is not the time to antagonize a cop or belittle him or her with your charming sense of humor.

You can do that on Facebook.

Make it a positive experience

Getting pulled over by the cops is about as much fun as watching an episode of Real Housewives (sorry ladies, you know it’s bad). Some reading this may even think I am sensationalizing recent media coverage of officer involved shootings involving unarmed black men.

Real Housewives - Melbourne

Real Housewives – Melbourne

That topic will be covered in a future article (baby steps people).

What I am presenting here are common sense actions that cops want you to know. I’m not a “traffic guy” like some of my fellow brothers and sisters. Being pulled over is not the end of the world or implies that you are a bad person. It’s just a job that has to be done.

Your best bet is to be cooperative and attentive. Also, it never hurts to be friendly and humble during the traffic stop.

Who knows, you might get off with just a warning.

Some of you have reached out and want to share your story with others. A blog like this one is a great way to reach those who could benefit from your experience and interests. Blogging has changed my perspective and my life.

It could do the same for you.

I highly recommend HostGatorwhich in my opinion is the simplest and fastest way to get you started on your blogging journey. If you have any questions about starting a blog or a website, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or email me directly at

A 23-year veteran police officer, Bart spent time as a patrolmen and a violent crimes detective (specialized in strategic intelligence and research analysis). Aside from this experience in high profile case investigations, he has received training from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security in Advanced Intelligence Analysis. Bart also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and Strategic Intelligence (Magna Cum Laude) from Liberty University. As a father of four, husband and law enforcement officer, he wants to share his knowledge on safety with you. Bart is also a contributing writer for Law Enforcement Today.

1 Comment

  • Loretta Obradovic December 4, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    very sensible advice – however I do remember a time when, after being pulled over, and the officer asking me ” do you know why I pulled you over?” I replied, I expect you to tell me. Big sigh, then license and registration please. Apparently, I was exceeding the posted speed limit. A work zone, with no work due to rain. I said, there were 4 cars ahead of me, that I couldn’t keep up with! Answer -l you were the one going 62 MPH. so, if they are blowing ahead, does that mean I was the straggler and easily culled from the herd?


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