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There Is A Reason Cops Tap Your Tail Light After Pulling You Over

If you're a good driver — or a lucky one — then you may have never been pulled over, but if you have, you may have noticed a strange habit that some police officers have.

Not all officers do it anymore, but many will tap your tail light as they walk up alongside your vehicle.

If you've ever been pulled over, you may have noticed that the officer doesn't walk directly to your window.

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Instead, he may first subtly touch the tail light on your car. It's a small move, and if you're busy collecting your license and registration, you're not likely to notice it.

So why do they do this?

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There are a few reasons, actually!

Many older officers say that they were trained to do the tap in the days before dash cams and high-tech tracking.

By touching the tail light, they are leaving their fingerprints on the vehicle.

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By doing this, they are directly connecting them to the car if, say, the driver suddenly decides to bolt.

Beyond leaving fingerprints, there's actually another reason an officer may tap your tail light.

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You might notice that the tap is hard enough to feel it from inside your car.

This is thought to cause a slight distraction to the driver.

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Which could be enough to prevent them from hiding something in the few seconds it takes the cop to reach the driver's window, according to The Law Dictionary.

It also acts as a physical cue to ensure the officer approaches the vehicle correctly.

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If they approach from directly behind the vehicle, it could suddenly back into them and crush them against the hood of their patrol car. If they're too far to the side of the vehicle, then they won't get a good view into the back seat as they approach the window.

Mostly, it became part of the routine for experienced cops.

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And considering the benefits it provides for such a simple maneuver, I can't say I blame them.

However, it's a trend that's becoming a thing of the past.

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Not all police academies teach it anymore, since dash cams, GPS, and instant access to vehicle registration details make it moot.

Some academies have even begun to discourage the practice since it could distract the officer.

We wouldn't encourage getting pulled over to see if your officer taps your tail light.

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But if it does happen, pay close attention and see if the officer decides to put this trick into practice!

h/t: The Law Dictionary