traffic stop protocol…

Traffic stop 2
Suburban Traffic Stop (Photo credit: JKleeman)

In a day and age where complaints about police are all over the place, I’ve actually got a serious question that I haven’t seen adequately addressed anywhere. I don’t count internet pundits opining on “best practices” on general forums to be “adequate”.

Way back when in my high school driver’s ed classes, and in the aftermath of the whole Craig Peyer/Cara Knott nightmare, we were taught that if an officer signaled you to pull over, if you could not do so immediately (whether traffic, an unsafe spot, no space to do so, or you did not feel safe) you should slow down, put on your hazard lights and slowly proceed to a place where you felt it was safe to pull off the road.

Setting aside the perhaps justifiable paranoia of the time, the advice to turn on your hazards and pull over at the first available safe opportunity is great on highways and suburban or rural environments. But what about the city?

Note, I’m not talking about fearing an officer, I’m talking about the simple mechanics of finding a safe place to pull over, where you are not blocking traffic, or creating a hazard, or worse, creating an unnecessarily risky environment for the officer who has to leave the safety of their car to complete the stop.

Why am I so hung up on this? This morning, on the way to my parking lot, I heard a siren blare up the street. About a half block up, I saw the lights. Moments later, after passing a cross street, hotel valet parking turn in, and an empty alley, and after two more blasts from the siren, the apparently clueless motorist pulled over about a block and a half past where the siren first blared.

I say apparently clueless because the driver had not signaled in any way – no hazards, no turn signals, nuttin’. The driver also pulled over in such a way that their car blocked over half the driveway into my parking lot, and did not leave the officer room to pull in behind. The result? The officer’s car was half in the lane, effectively making it very difficult for any cars to safely enter the parking lot.

To be fair – let’s assume the driver didn’t hear the siren right away and pulled over at the first opportunity (after having missed several better ones). Was this the right spot? Or should the driver have pulled ahead and blocked the bus lane? Or perhaps signaled and driven to the corner and pulled over there? Or pulled into the actual parking lot? Or… well, what?

What is the best protocol for pulling over in a city environment where there are not always curb spaces available, and the few that exist are usually bus stops, loading zones, driveways or other places where stopping is prohibited?

Do you block access? Double park and block a lane? What?

Seriously, inquiring minds want to know!