The Traffic Stop: Driver Etiquette

By MPD Sergeant Mo Hawkinson
July 26, 2016

Traffic Stop Driver Etiquette

The following is not traffic law, but addresses driver's etiquette during a Traffic Stop in the City of McPherson.

First and foremost, traffic stops must be SAFE. With safety in mind, STAY in your vehicle when law enforcement stops you unless asked to do otherwise by the law enforcement officer. The safest place to be on the roadway is INSIDE your vehicle. Do NOT get out or attempt to approach the Officer unless asked to do so.

Some time may pass between when you stop your car for the Officer and their arrival at your window. Please be patient as the Dispatcher provides the pertinent information to the Officer. Take this time to turn your radio off, end your phone call, turn on your dome light, and remind your passengers, who may not know, to remain calm during the stop. From an Officer’s perspective, these few small steps decrease distraction and increase the likelihood of a smooth stop for all parties. Leave your hands on the steering wheel where they are visible until the officer asks for identification or documentation.

It is an unfortunate reality that law enforcement must be prepared for those who might reach for something other than their insurance information. You may even consider announcing where those items are while you reach slowly for them. For example, “My registration is in the glove box.”

Someone in a hurry to grab his wallet under the seat may find the Officer conducting the stop has moved to a more guarded position of safety in preparation for the worst. Slow and narrated movements eliminate misunderstandings.

When there is a weapon on your person or in your vehicle, our preference is for you to declare it while your hands are on your steering wheel. Again, that isn't a requirement of the law, but it is our preference to have the most communication and the least surprises possible for each interaction. The point of traffic stops is to correct unlawful traffic conduct safely. It is every Officer’s goal to make this correction as positive as possible and to arrive home safely at the end of each shift. We hope to show some light on how and why we do what we do.

On most Tuesdays, MPD addresses a topic dealing with traffic enforcement in the City of McPherson. The Traffic Section of Patrol Bureau organizes “The Traffic Stop.” Have a topic you’d like us to feature in a future “Traffic Stop”? Send your suggestions to us via private message at the McPherson KS Police Department Facebook page.