With more and more drivers on the road each holiday season, police officers are forced to amp up efforts to curtail risky driving behavior. Our holiday driving tips are the same as always: buckle up, use caution, stick to the rules of the road, and don’t drink and drive.
But if (Santa forbid!) an officer happens to suspect you of some other naughty driving practice and pulls you over, here are a few tips for safely navigating a stressful situation:
- Take a deep breath. Remain calm. It might be difficult to relax given the circumstances, but a calm demeanor and a friendly smile can make a difference. At the very least, a positive attitude can make the incident go more smoothly.
- Put on your hazard lights. This lets the police officer know that you’re planning to pull over.
- Pull over to a safe place as soon as possible. Generally, it’s recommended that you pull over to the right-hand side of the road, but if you’re on a busy street or highway, this may not be safe. Use good judgment and pull over only where it’s safe to do so.
- Stay in your car and wait for instructions. It may take a moment for the officer to get your license plate info before approaching you and providing instructions on what to do next. Be patient and wait calmly.
- Keep your hands visible. Keep your hands in plain sight (at 10 and 2 on the wheel) to signal that there’s nothing (literally or figuratively) up your sleeve.
- Provide info when asked. Make sure that you have your drivers license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance with you. (If you’re an Esurance customer, you can print copies of your insurance cards online whenever you want.)
- Don’t argue or pick fights. Whatever you do, don’t make things difficult for yourself or the police officer. You’ll generally get a better response if you’re polite and respectful. Remember, you’ll have your chance to fight the citation in court if you feel you’re in the right, but arguing with an officer is not likely to do you much good.
- Don’t admit guilt. By admitting guilt, you forfeit your right to contest the potential ticket in court. It’s no joke; anything you say could and might be used against you.
By being a safe, cautious driver, you can usually avoid being pulled over, but if you see blue lights in your rearview mirror, remember to stay calm and to play nice this holiday season.