The writer recalls a time when about 17 years old (many years ago) and driving as a front seat passenger in a friend's car. We were pulled over by a police officer who had been following us and who stated we were speeding (not excessively). During the conversation, which was courteous but cautious, this writer (thinking he was helping the driver) interrupted the conversation and advised the officer that he was not legally entitled to ask for some information being asked for. Wrong thing to do! Instead of possibly being let off with a polite warning or a reduced fine, the officer, his judgment having been questioned, proceeded to write up a ticket for the full amount over the limit and handed it to my friend. Lesson learned!
Given my years of wisdom, I have come to appreciate that police have a difficult job and are often unappreciated. Imagine having to pull over countless motorists – speeding, red lights, stop signs, and worse and each motorist presenting a different circumstance or risk and varying degrees of personality from polite to abusive. Or as they approach a vehicle wondering if there is a gun hidden or other surprise awaiting them. Not a pleasant scenario.
Police are people too and despite their training, are probably just as nervous or suspicious when the approach you as you might be of them. They don't know what to expect from you and the single biggest thing on their mind is safety – you, your passengers, road conditions, passing cars and trucks – are all concerns.
Here are a couple of suggestions while they may seem obvious might help next time you get stopped -
Stay composed. When you see the officer flag you down or the flashing lights behind don't panic, make a plan then cautiously pull over – usually to the to the right but consider the nearest curb or highway divider if there is a reasonable amount of space, remain in the car, if dark turn on the interior lights and even put your hands on the steering wheel.
Do not make any sudden movements or turn to grab your purse, or put your hands in your pocket, under your seat or reach for the glove compartment to get your identification – until the officer so instructs you. Then proceed slowly. The officer may shine their flashlight into the car to follow your movements so don't be alarmed this is standard police training.
What could make things worse is any lack of co-operation, attitude, or anything that might increase the officers' fear factor. If you are friendly, polite and not arguing or denying what happened there should be no fear factor and the officer is at least more likely to use some discretion and maybe even give you a break. Same with using terms pejoratives like "I didn't mean it sweetie" or bragging about who you know at the police department.
And, never, ever, try to bribe a police officer. This will land you in even more trouble.
Follow these simple suggestions and even better, don't break the law in the first place, and your driving life will be much more pleasant and your insurance premiums lower.
Remember, Police Officers have a responsibility to keep our roads safe in a time when there are not enough police presence. While they sometimes don't enjoy giving out tickets, it is their job and they have a boss to answer to just as you do.
The Insurance Advisors @ Guthrie Insurance Brokers Ltd
Toronto – (416) 487-5200 – 1-888-310-SAVE (7283)
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