I was just now reading an article on why cops touch the back of your car during a traffic stop. It turns out that they are a) checking to see that the trunk lid is lock and no one will pop out and ambush them (which has happened) and b) to leave fingerprints in case they later need evidence that they were with that car.
This made me think of my own personal procedures when a cop stops me for a warning or ticket (usually for speeding). I developed these over a few decades from experience and various TV and magazine articles.
The important thing to remember is that when approaching a car, cops do not know who is inside. Even if they look up who the car owner is, the car may be stolen. They often approach with one hand on their weapon just in case the person inside is dangerous. You do not want to make the cops any more nervous than they are already.
The first thing to do is to remain calm. Lots of people get scared and/or nervous when a cop stops them. If the cop sees you are nervous, it might make him nervous. He doesn’t know why you’re nervous or scared. It might be that, as far as he know, you just came from a bank robbery or you might be a serial killer (no kidding, Ted Bundy barely escaped being caught during a traffic stop).
Then the first physical thing you do is turn off the car engine and turn on the ceiling light. The cop will be a lot less nervous if he sees you are not planning a quick getaway. Another thing cops have to worry about is that the interior of the car is dark, and they cannot see who or what weapons may be inside (why do you think they are always shining flashlights into the interior of a stopped vehicle?) Alleviate them of this fear by turning on the ceiling light, so that they can get an unrestricted view of the interior.
Next, I like to roll down my window and place my hands on the door, so that they can see my hands and know that I do not have any weapons. Passengers can place their hands on the dashboard or, if they are in the back seat, on the headrests or backs of the front seats.
I do not make any sudden moves and if I need to move significantly, I tell the cop what I am about to do so he can watch me closely. I will make these moves slowly to ensure him that I do not intend to surprise him with anything.
On the occasion that my wallet with my driver’s license is in the glovebox, when the officer asks for my license, I tell him that it is in the glovebox and after he okays the move (either verbally or visually by nodding his head), I slowly reach over to the glovebox with my right hand and open the glovebox slowly and give him a chance to peer inside before I slowly reach in and extract my wallet.
Anyway, that’s my pointers for the night.
Remember: the main thing you don’t want to do is to make the officer any more nervous than he already is. You want to calm him down and through your actions ensure him that he is safe, and that you pose no threat to him.
Let me know if you have any interesting tactics you use when a cop pulls you over.