Why Do Police Touch Your Tail Light?

Why Do Police Touch Your Tail Light?

We have all been there before–you are driving down the road when you suddenly see police lights. Getting pulled over is something that most of us would prefer to avoid at all costs. Of course, sometimes, it still happens, and we see police lights flashing in our rearview mirrors.


There are many different reasons why a police officer might decide to pull you over, but there is one common habit that many police officers tend to share—touching the tail light of a vehicle. This unique traffic stop habit has many drivers wondering what this behavior means.


In this article, we are going to discuss why a police officer might touch your car and what it means when they do this.

Why Would a Police Officer Touch Your Vehicle?

Interacting with police during a traffic stop can be intimidating and uncomfortable, especially with red and blue LED lights flashing in the background. When this happens, it can be even more unsettling if you don’t understand what is going on. It is fairly common for police officers to touch vehicles during a traffic stop, and there can be several different reasons for it.


Common Reasons Include:

  • Inspecting the vehicle

  • Making a mental note

  • Reviewing potential vehicle violations

  • Scanning for evidence

What Does it Mean if a Police Officer Touches Your Tail Light During a Traffic Stop?

If you have noticed that police tend to touch the tail lights of vehicles during traffic stops, you are not alone. This is a commonly reported habit, and there is a reason for it. In fact, there can be quite a few!


Assuming that there isn’t a reason specific to you or your vehicle that would compel an officer to touch your tail light, you are seeing an old habit at work. Touching a vehicle’s tail lights actually used to be a standard practice that police offers were taught and encouraged to do.


The addition of cameras on police vehicles and police officers themselves is a fairly new concept. In the past, a lack of cameras made traffic stops very dangerous, making it difficult to see what had happened if an officer was hurt or abducted during a traffic stop. For this reason, police would touch the tail lights of a car or the back of the car.


Police officers would–and still do–touch a vehicle to leave fingerprints and evidence on the vehicle. Taking this action means that there is evidence to follow if the precinct is investigating someone after a traffic stop goes awry and an officer is harmed or goes missing.


Although there are plenty of other security measures in place today, this habit persists to this day among officers.

The More You Know, the Better You Drive

The average person never wants to see police lights behind them, but at least you know that if an officer touches your rear LED lights on their way to you, this is just common practice. Even though there is less reason for this today, it could still be an action that brings comfort–or it may just be a habit!


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