Did Ya Know?

The Real Reason Officers Tap Your Tail Light At A Traffic Stop

Most people, for one reason or another, at some point in their lives have been pulled over by law enforcement.  However, have you ever wondered why the police officer taped your tail light as he approached the driver’s side of the car?

It would seem there are a couple reasons the officer will do this, and no, one is not in case there is a kidnap victim in the trunk.  But the actual reasons are pretty interesting.

Image: 22 Words

One reason the officer will tap on your tail light is as a means of both startling and distracting you a bit.  By doing this, if for instance you are reaching for a weapon, or even trying to dispose of illegal contraband, you may be startled just long enough for the officer to be able to get up to the driver’s window and see what the situation may be.  The tap also clues the officer into whether or not, if you are acting jumpy, he should investigate further.

Nowadays most law enforcement vehicles are equipped with dash cams.  However, in the years before modern technology, the tapping of the tail light had a very important, very significant reason.

Image: Mental Floss

When the officer would tap the light,  it would leave his fingerprints behind.  In turn, the fingerprints would serve as proof that the officer had indeed pulled the vehicle over, and that he had been in its presence, in case there was any doubt that the traffic stop did actually transpire.  And although with dash cams there is incontrovertible proof, some officers have just simply never gotten out of the habit or routine of the tap.

There are sure to be other reasons or ideas on why the officer will tap the tail light, but these two are the more commonly known ones.  So, the next time you get pulled over, and the officer taps the tail light, you will have a good idea of what is being done and why.