TUSCALOOSA COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Several Tuscaloosa County agencies have partnered to release a public service announcement on proper response to a traffic stop.
Josh Hastings with the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office says the PSA is in response to civilians asking what the proper procedure is when you get pulled over.
Officials are hoping the video will help serve as an educational tool for officers and the public on what the right protocol is for motorists when they are stopped by police.
Sheriff Ron Abernathy says there are several things that law enforcement agencies want the public to know. For example, officers advise against making any sudden moves inside your vehicle, and ask you to alert the officer if you have a weapon in the car.
If the traffic stop is at night, turn on your interior light so the police officer can see you.
“When an officer is approaching, even though you might be getting your license or registration out, that quick movement inside that vehicle creates tension and fear for that officer,” Abernathy said.
Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson says the hope is that this project will keep everyone involved safer.
“And it’s for educational and informative purposes. We want people to know in the community this is how we would like them to conduct themselves during a traffic stop,” Anderson said. “It shows that we are active and involved in trying to reach out to the public to alleviate them in some of the fears they might have based on the things they have seen nationwide.”
According to the PSA, these are some rules to follow if you are pulled over for a traffic violation:
- Pull your vehicle to the right and signal the officer you’re aware with a turn or hazard signal.
- Don’t move around. Put your hands on the steering wheel and await direction from the officer.
- If it’s dark outside, turn on your interior light so the officer can see inside easily.
- After they instruct you, tell the officer where your drivers license and registration and ask if it is okay before getting them out.
- Inform the officer if you have a weapon in the vehicle.
- Officers often approach the driver’s side window, but sometimes approach the passenger side for safety reasons. Don’t be alarmed.
- Turn off the radio and put away any mobile devices.
- Be attentive and courteous to the officer, even if you disagree.
- Signing your ticket is not an admission of guilt; it is simply verification that you know to pay your fine or show up for court.
For deaf or hard of hearing citizens, there are even more recommendations that the Sherriff’s Department have to offer for your safety.
- Pull over to a well lit area so you are better able to see the officer as he is trying to communicate with you.
- Keep a small sign above the visor that briefly explains their disability such as hard of hearing or deaf.
- When the officer asks for documents such as your drivers license, insurance or registration, point to where they will be retrieving the requested documents and get the officer to acknowledge that he/she understands before they reach for anything.
If you are passing an emergency vehicle, Alabama law says you must move over or slow down 20 mph if you cannot change lanes. You can see the full PSA in the video below.