When teaching your child how to drive, you anxiously go over safety tips and the rules of the road. You may feel anxiety getting in the passenger seat – your foot tapping or pressing on an invisible brake pedal. You go over properly adjusting the mirrors, the safety belt, and using the turn signal when switching lanes. You even remember to calmly inform her that she needs to brake a little sooner at the next stop sign than she did the last. Thankfully everything went smoothly during the time he had his learner’s permit and now you’re somewhat confident of his abilities to drive on his own.
What you may not have thought about while going over driving tips is how to handle a traffic stop. Many of us don’t even think about traffic stops on a routine basis because they’re not something we regularly dealt with; some of us have never been pulled over. For a teen driver, speeding can be a leading cause for traffic citations.
Traffic Stops: Start to Finish
Going over the rules and etiquette of a traffic stop should be a top priority when discussing what your teen driver may encounter on the road. Being pulled over can be an emotional experience; some people experience anxiety, others become defensive and some may experience any number of other emotions. Knowing these emotions may take over is all the more reason to have a clearcut plan of action when being pulled over and for your teen driver to know how to properly handle the situation.
Sirens and Lights: Actions to Take
- Slow down and turn on your right turn signal to show the officer you’re aware of his lights and sirens.
- Scan the road ahead for a safe area for both of you to pull over
- Avoid hills where a coming driver might not see either of you
- Avoid intersections and areas that may impede other drivers’ abilities to get around
- Put the car in park and turn off your radio
- Turn on the dome light if it’s dark out. Both of you need to be able to see
- Keep your hands on the steering wheel
- Follow the instructions of the officer
- Inform the officer where you need to retrieve your license and registration. Keep your license and registration handy while driving – clipped to the visor or in the center console; you don’t want to have to dig for them
- Politely ask the officer to explain anything you don’t understand – this is your right as a driver
- Accept the warning or citation and wait for a safe opportunity to pull off the road – using your turn signal, of course!
- Remember – a citation isn’t an admission of guilt – your teen will have the opportunity to defend himself if necessary in a court.
Teaching your teen safe driving tips should always include how to interact with an officer during a traffic stop. Having a plan of action and remaining polite and honest go a long way toward a smooth, less-stressful situation.