30 Rules That All Traffic Cops Should Follow

By Rylee 8 months ago

1. Turn sirens on for emergencies

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Technically, police vehicles have certain privileges over your typical motorist. If you’re a cop, the law allows you to violate traffic laws legally. However, it is applicable only if your siren/emergency lights are turned on. Most traffic law violations by the boys-in-blue stem from breaking this critical rule.

2. Respect the red light

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I have a question that’s been bugging me for a while. Does a cop – riding an official police car – get pulled over for a ticket by another cop for running a red light (without their emergency lights on, of course)? The point is red should mean “stop” for everyone.

3. Serve proof of violation

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Have you ever been stopped by traffic police & haven’t the slightest clue what’s wrong? The good news is that it’s up to the police officer to describe the nature of the alleged traffic violation and offer proof of this crime. Don’t get pulled into that guessing game. You could incriminate yourself.

4. Keep your body cam on

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As I like to say, justice remains within the frame; injustice occurs outside of it. Some unscrupulous traffic cops turn off body cameras after pulling over a suspect. When that happens, chances are something outside of the law – such as a bribe or excessive use of force- is about to go down.

5. Use force as a last resort

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If you’re a traffic police officer, the law requires that you should not use force on a suspect who’s cooperating. If their hands are not visible or are defying vehicle exit orders, that’s another matter. Sadly, some bad apples jump the gun, using the act-first-ask-questions-later approach.

6. Observe Exit/Entrance rules

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Parking lots are often busy areas with vehicles and pedestrians moving in various directions. Entrance and exit signs are strategically placed to regulate traffic flow and minimize the risk of accidents. It’s not right, or more accurately, it is rude and unlawful to defy entrance/exit signs for parking lots.

7. Match level of force to offense

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Hitting a suspect in handcuffs. Threatening cooperative suspects with Tasers. These are just a few examples of excessive force. While the exact definition of the right level of force remains a grey area, as a cop, you should do your best to match force to the severity of the situation.

8. Seek consent to search a vehicle

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According to the 4th Amendment, “Every subject has a right to be secure from all unreasonable searches and seizures of his person and possessions.” Without a warrant, your consent, or probable cause, police officers have no right to search your car. They can’t act on gut feeling or a hunch.

9. Keep your fog lights off

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When you’re on patrol, turning on the lights is necessary to improve visibility on the road or get the attention of surrounding traffic. But that doesn’t mean you should drive around with your fog lights on. Reserve these lights for the sole purpose for which they were intended.

10. You can’t “borrow” a car

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Sometimes, a police officer can come dashing out of nowhere in hot pursuit, and they ask for your vehicle and flash a badge. While special exceptions give them the right, they can’t, for the most part. So the next time a cop borrows your vehicle for whatever reason, consider yourself possibly carjacked.

11. Stay off hard shoulders

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When pursuing a suspect, you are allowed to drive on hard shoulders. There is also an exception that provides this privilege under other special circumstances, such as an accident. Some cops do so just because they can. It’d be wise for you to avoid following in those footsteps.

12. Hand out plausible tickets

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A cop can’t hand out tickets for no reason. You need to be able to back it up with evidence. Fortunately, you don’t need to argue with officers over the justification of a ticket. You can beat an unjust ticket in court if you provide legal justification for your traffic violation.

13. No texting while driving

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As a traffic police officer, the law permits you to use electronics that your ordinary driver isn’t legally allowed to while driving. That includes lights, laptops, communication devices, and so on. Nonetheless, no one is above the law when it comes to not texting and driving.

14. Observe 4-way stops

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Picture this. You arrive at a four-way stop with three other cars. Who should go first? Traffic rules state that the first car to arrive on the scene has precedence. It says nothing about a police vehicle having the upper hand. If it’s unclear who came first, the car to the right goes first.

15. Wear your seat belt

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I don’t know about you, but I don’t know too many people whose bodies can uphold well against the crushing impacts of metal. If not for the very purpose of upholding the law and practicing what you preach, wear your seat belt to protect your own life. Never forget to buckle up.

16. Uphold pedestrians’ right of way

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Pedestrians have the right of way in certain instances, e.g., where there are crosswalks, marked or otherwise. There are exceptions to this rule, however, such as when you’re in the middle of a high-speed chase. Otherwise, you have to yield to pedestrians’ right of way & ensure others follow suit.

17. Keep passengers out of it

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I have witnessed a bizarre incident where a cop asked the driver for his license and registration and then went on to pose the same question to a passenger. It must’ve been his first day on the job. Save for IDs, the law stipulates that you can only request these documents from the driver.

18. Heed the Stop sign

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As we’ve established so far, the rules of the road apply to traffic police officers, for the most part. The same goes for Stop signs. However, you can’t receive a speeding ticket or traffic fine when in uniform & or in an official car. It’s prudent to hit the brakes at a stop sign; lives could be at stake.

19. Park by the rules

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Except for an emergency, the law still requires you not to park against the rules, whether you are a police officer or not. So it’s not right to park wrongly to beat the lunch rush. The law also considers it an offense and a severe violation of the traffic laws you enforce.

20. Accept civilians refusing to help

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Civilians, or bystanders, are legally obligated to aid a police officer, especially if this assistance could lead to the apprehension of a suspect. Still, a civilian can refuse your request for help under certain circumstances, especially if they feel doing so will put them in danger.

21. Stick to the right side

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Even if everyone parked their cars and decided not to go anywhere that day, you still cannot drive a cop car on the wrong side of the road. Unless, of course, you’re following up on a crime. But ask yourself. Is the offense worth risking the lives of other motorists and your own?

22. Be honest with traffic violations

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It’s unbelievably hard to keep a temper when a driver you’ve pulled over is unnecessarily rude. You’ll be tempted to create false traffic violations, which they probably deserve as payback. But it’s not worth risking a misconduct case or your conscience.

23. Look out for cyclists

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Many motorists ignore the safety of cyclists on the road. Fortunately, some states have rectified that by requiring motorists to observe a 3 feet distance or more when overtaking cyclists. Traffic officers don’t enforce this law with consistent regularity. So look out for the guy on the bike.

24. Don’t leave your engine unattended

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We’re smack in the middle of the biggest battles of our lives with climate change. While some state laws prohibit drivers from leaving their engines running unattended, it’s also a matter of preservation. Unless you can breathe on Mars, don’t leave the engine running when you don’t need to.

25. Yield to the U-turn sign

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You’ve seen this “cool” scene in movies. A cop making an abrupt U-turn in the middle of the road to pursue a suspect or sometimes just to show off. Don’t do it. Observe the No-U-turn signs. If you must make an illegal U-turn, be sure to check that there’s no traffic around you.

26. Avoid cutting through parking lots

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Taking a “shortcut” through private property like parking lots and residential areas is extremely risky. As a traffic cop, it’s understandable you want to gain an advantage over a fleeing suspect and put a stop to them before they hurt someone. But doing so puts pedestrians in danger.

27. Don’t tailgate

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Must you follow the leading car so closely? A couple of inches certainly won’t make much of a difference in beating traffic that stretches out as far as the eye can see. Therefore, keep your distance and help to enforce the rules that ensure other motorists do the same as well.

28. Wait in traffic

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You’re running super late. The jam is longer than the wait line at a new iPhone launch. You’re tempted to blast the lights and sirens so that other vehicles give way and you can get through. Unless there’s a really good reason, ignore that inner voice.

29. No speeding

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Being a traffic cop doesn’t mean you gain the right to cruise above the speed limit in that lane, be it as little as exceeding thresholds by just 5 miles an hour. In case you’re in pursuit of a suspect, this rule flies out the window. Most of the time, though, you’re bound by speed limits.

30. Hold yourself accountable

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“With great power, comes great responsibility.” As an officer of the law, you have powers and privileges that the common motorist can only dream of. It is up to you to keep yourself accountable because it’s highly likely that no one else will. Lead by example, stay true to the rules of the road.