As I find myself scrolling through social media I happen to see a lot of videos taken while on the road. These videos include road rage incidents and accidents caught on dash cam. Videos I see the most seem to be police traffic stops and one action in particular stood out to me.

Why do New York police officers touch your vehicle during a traffic stop?

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Many New York State Police cruisers are equipped with mobile video audio recording systems (MVARS) These cameras capture several key moments before, during and after a traffic stop including the moment an officer approaches your vehicle.

Often times, at the very beginning of a traffic stop, as the officer approaches your vehicle they will touch your taillight, trunk or back quarter panel.

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According to the Law Dictionary, there are several reasons for an officer to touch your vehicle at a traffic stop. Yes, they have dash cams and body cams but touching the vehicle can be a measure of safety and additional evidence. Here are some of the reasons:

  • To leave a finger print showing that officer was with that vehicle and at that scene
  •  To ensure they trunk is closed and that they won't be jumped by someone hiding in the trunk
  • To startle the driver. If the driver was doing something they shouldn't be doing, this gives them a moment of pause and time for the officer to assess the situation better.

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