Many new drivers experience driving anxiety and the fear of getting pulled over. Understandably, interacting with the police can be nerve-wracking. The fear is even worse for black and Hispanic motorists because their probability of getting pulled over is much higher than white drivers.
If you do get pulled over, it’s important to know your rights and the best ways to get back on the road as soon as possible. Take a look.
1- Don’t Argue
There is no point in taking it personally. Maybe you were unknowingly speeding, or you didn’t stop at a stop sign. Or perhaps you didn’t do anything wrong. Don’t get defensive or start arguing with the officer. Being rude or aggressive can quickly escalate the situation. Instead, try to keep your emotions under control in a polite and respectable manner.
2- Stay Calm
If it’s the middle of the night and you already have driving anxiety, then getting pulled over can be extremely stressful. But there is no point in freaking out. Slowly pull over to the side of the road, turn off your interior lights, turn off the music, and put your hands on the steering wheel. Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself.
If it makes you feel comfortable, call a friend or family member and ask them to stay on the line till you’re allowed to leave.
3- Don’t Make Sudden Movements
Panic can cause you to make sudden movements which may alarm the officer. You don’t want them to think you are reaching for a weapon. So even when you are taking out your license and registration from your pocket or glove compartment, do it slowly. And every time you are reaching for something, it is safer to inform the police officer before doing it.
4- Get a Ticket Disputing App
Did you get a ticket despite not violating any traffic laws? Save your breath as arguing won’t be helpful. Instead, download an app where you can find your traffic ticket and dispute it without any hassle.
5- Be Honest
Denying is of no use if you were clearly caught speeding or jumping a red light. Sometimes being honest is the way to go. Are you rushing off to the hospital to see a loved one? Are you late for a very important meeting? While these don’t excuse breaking traffic laws, they may convince the office to let you go without writing you up.
6- Drive Below Speed Limit
Rather than driving at the speed limit, it is safer to drive slightly below it. However, it is important to note that driving too slow can also be the reason for getting pulled over. So don’t drive too slow or too fast.
7- Follow Traffic Laws
Other than the speed limit, it is also important to follow all other traffic laws. There are certain traffic and parking laws that vary from state to state.
Is this your first time driving in a new city? It would be best to go through the state’s traffic laws before you get on the road.
8- Avoid Visual Vehicle Upgrades
Driving a vehicle that stands out from the crowd makes you more vulnerable to getting pulled over, especially if you are black or brown. Avoid visual upgrades and try to keep the interiors of your car clean.
9- You Can Say No To a Search
Unless the police have probable cause, they cannot search your vehicle without your consent. Therefore, you are in a position to say no to a search. You must clearly say, ‘I do not consent to a search.’
Remind yourself that getting pulled over is not the end of the world, especially when you haven’t done anything wrong. However, if, your fear of driving or police persists, it would be helpful to talk to a professional therapist.