"...If you are pulled over, put yourself in the officer’s shoes..."
Published: October 1, 2018
By: Tiffani Hill-Patterson
Because of the likelihood of being stopped by the police or being in a car accident, it’s important that parents teach young drivers how to respond. Both are stressful situations, so parents need to walk them through what to do if it happens.
“If you are pulled over, put yourself in the officer’s shoes,” says Curtis Summerville, Alabama State Trooper. “Try to create an atmosphere of comfort. The officer’s job is dangerous and he doesn’t know what he’s walking into.”
Kate Mercer, a Spain Park High School graduate who was pulled over for the first time this winter, adds, “I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be. The cop was very nice. But I would tell other kids to just make sure they’re respectful and don’t get an attitude.”
Summerville offers these tips for teens if stopped by the police:
- Roll down the window and turn down the music.
- Keep your hands on the wheel at the 10 and 2 position with no movement.
- Take instructions from the officer. Wait until he tells you what to do.
- Stay calm.
- If there are other occupants, tell them to put their hands on their knees or on the back of the seat.
In case of accident:
- Notify your parents first.
- If it’s only a fender bender and it’s an older car, you probably don’t need to call the police to do a crash report. But speak with your parents to be sure.
- Call the police or 911 for an accident with any injury to a person or severe damage to property. In this situation, a crash report is required.
Weather awareness when on the road is another challenge. Today, most teens use Spotify or Apple Music or satellite radio for their tunes, which means they don’t get the interruptions from local radio stations.
Kat Campbell, a meteorologist at WAFF-48 in Huntsville, says a weather app is essential to stay safe while traveling. She recommends her station’s app, but you can also find one from your local TV station, such as WBRC Fox 6 or ABC 33/40 in Birmingham, or apps like the Weather Channel, Weather Live, or Saf-T-Net.
“In the event of severe weather at your current location, an audio alert will go off,” Campbell explains. This alert sounds over any audio you may have going. In order for the alerts to work, settings in the app must be turned on to allow location tracking and notifications.
And one final bit of advice from Campbell: “Never try to photograph severe weather while driving. It’s not worth the Snapchat story and we will never use photos on air if we see you’re behind the wheel.”
Here are Campbell’s tips for avoiding danger:
Tornado: “Seek nearby shelter. If the danger is imminent, abandoning your car and lying flat in a ditch is better than staying in your car. Never park under an overpass or bridge. The wind tunnel effect will actually make these locations much more dangerous.”
Flash flood: “What looks like one inch of rain could really be six inches. Two inches of flowing water can lift a car. Seek shelter on higher ground. A simple motto to remember is to ‘turn around, don’t drown!’ ”
Ice, sleet, freezing rain: Stay home. “If you must drive, take it very slow and come to an almost complete stop before approaching any hills. Again, especially for teens, the best option is not to drive on ice.”
Tiffani Hill-Patterson is a writer and editor with a day job and a teenage daughter. She writes about health, pop culture, and girl power. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at tiffanihillpatterson.com.