Why do cop cars continue to flash their lights after they’ve pulled someone over to the side of a road? It’s blinding to other drivers, and I can’t imagine what purpose it serves (unless it’s to intimidate the guy they pulled over).
I think you answered your own question.
They really don’t want you to run into them.
They want you to slow down since one or more occupants may be at the roadside.
Even with the flashing lights, the #1 way on-duty cops in my state die is by being run over. I imagine this would be even worse without the lights to alert drivers that someone might be walking around in the road.
This is the correct answer. It’s dangerous enough to be walking around on the side of the road with traffic zipping by you, especially if you’re on a highway. The lights draw the attention of passing drivers so they know there is stopped traffic ahead and that there may be people milling about.
…yet if the lights aren’t on those unblinded drivers still don’t see the cop until after they run over him.
Missouri and Kansas have laws requiring drivers to slow down or move over when approaching and passing an emergency vehicle that’s on the roadside with its emergency lights on. In other words, it’s a dangerous situation for the officer even if the lights are flashing, certainly worse if they’re not.
WE just had two Canton officers hit along I-275. I presume both cars had their overheads lit up and a woman in a Vibe came along and crashed into them.
As runner of the roads, I have noticed that there is an initial movement of vehicle response toward me along the side of the road before a driver consciously recognizes me and corrects to the road. Same thing with cops stopped. They need something extra to be noticed. Here it is a violation not to slow down and move one lane over from the stopped vehicle-IF THE LIGHTS ARE FLASHING.
We have the same law in Florida. Frankly I don’t understand why police officers don’t approach from the passenger side where the car isn’t hanging over a ditch or against a guard rail. It isn’t as convenient, but it would be a lot safer.
FWIW, I’ve only ever seen Michigan State Police approach on the passenger side. still dangerous, though, if someone hits either stopped car at highway speeds, someone can easily get hurt or killed.
One reason is because it’s harder to see what the driver is doing if you approach from the other side of the car. You know that you’re just a guy who was speeding and will present no danger, but the cop walking up to your car doesn’t know that. He wants to watch you all the way.
If there are two cops in the car, of course, one generally will approach from either side for the same reason – to better keep an eye on the car’s occupants.
Usual practice these days, too, where it’s possible, it to stop the police car where it’s off a bit to the left of the car that’s been pulled over, so as the officer approaches his car is protecting his flank, so to speak. There are also apparently some studies that say that the police car should be parked at a slight angle, not exactly parallel to the traffic lane to make it more evident (even subconsciously) that it <b>is</b> stopped. The idea is to reduce the chances of the so-called “moth effect,” an approaching driver veering directly into the rear of the parked police car.
That’s also the reason for the rear-facing amber directional arrow light setups that a lot of police cars now have. They’re not going to be illuminated at all unless the car is stopped or moving slow enough to be an obstacle, and when in use provide a cue meant to direct approaching drivers around the car instead of into it.
I’ve heard it said that the lights, though normally a warning and a good idea as indicated above, can actually attract the attention of drunks and give them something to focus on, thereby crashing them into parked police cars.
Any truth to this or just confirmation bias because drunks are more likely to plow into any parked car?
You’ve got it backwards. It’s the obnoxious floodlight that intimidates the guy they’ve pulled over.
They’ve had a few drinks and somebody offers them some beads. Things just get a little out control.
Michigan has a similar law (fairly recent) that you have to move over one lane if there is such a lane, or slow down if there is not another lane to move over. I don’t know if it applies to all vehicles or just cop cars pulling someone over (which I know it covers) but seems like it’d be a good idea for it to cover all, and to move over even if there weren’t such a law.
I’ve seen enough TV footage of crashes (usually from the cop’s dash cam) to know that really bad stuff can happen when one of them gets smashed into. Flashing lights let people coming up fast from behind know that the cars are there sooner, turning them off would increase chances of crashes.
I wonder about this also.
They have all kinds of flashing lights on their bars. When a cop car pulls up behind someone to help with a breakdown, they don’t run the whole light show. And it is one hell of a show now a days. Quite blinding.
That’s the “moth effect” (as in moths drawn to flames) that I mentioned earlier.
Here’s one article on it. The last paragraph touches on what I also mentioned, the reasoning behind not parking the police car exactly parallel with the traffic lane:
Are we talking the light bars on top or the headlights? The light bars make all the sense in the world, but not the flashing headlights. Once stopped, they should be shut off. Also the radio controlling the traffic lights. I saw a fender bender close off the exit from a shopping center blocks away.
Since people smashing into police cars with a car pulled over is so common, are the police pulling the right people over? Do we need to analyze what types of drivers plow into stopped police cars and heaven forbid profile them?
Sanity seems to have prevailed over stopped school busses flashing headlights. Great, by the time the school bus moves on, the oncoming drivers are totally blinded.
They also drive into the back of road maintenance vehicles, with brightly flashing lights on top of them.
Hey. my Honda Fit may be small, but I’m pretty sure I can take on that gravel truck…
There have been several studies, and apparently the most likely to do this are those who pull lame political agendas into General Questions fora.