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How Do Police Officers Signal You To Stop Driving?

How Police Signal You To Stop (UK)

How Do Police Officers Signal You To Stop Driving?

An experience almost guaranteed to shake your nerves, being pulled over by a police officer is much more common than you think. 

Whilst you may be mustering up your energy to prove your rightful innocence, do you know exactly what to look for when a police officer is signalling you to stop driving? 

Whilst some road users may be oblivious to the meaning behind an officer’s signals, it is essential to educate yourself on the signs and comply correctly.

Read on to discover how police officers in the UK will signal you to stop driving.

Police signals

The usual protocol for police officers to signal you to stop driving is to turn on their infamous blue lights, flash their headlights, and use their left-hand side indicators. For UK road users, the police officer generally points to the left to signal where you should pull your vehicle in.

Picture this: You’re attending to your daily business when suddenly an array of blue and white lights and the piercing noise of a siren appear from nowhere. “Great”, you think. You’re being pulled over by a police car.

Bmw police car with blue lights on motorway

It’s no secret that being pulled over is one of the most nerve-wracking experiences you can face as a driver. 

The good news is that it’s easy to spot, and the steps you must follow are pretty straightforward. 

Complying with safety, police officers who are signalling for you to stop driving will ensure that they are doing so without endangering you or other drivers on the road. 

Common on main roads, you may also find that you are being signalled to stop driving whilst on a dual-carriageway and even a motorway.

All road users are required to comply with police officers’ signals, and later, we will explore the necessary steps you must take when a police officer is signalling you to stop. 

Police on Foot Patrol

When a police officer on foot patrol requires you to stop your vehicle, they will use one of three hand signals, and, depending on which direction the traffic is coming from, the main sign to look out for is the raised arm and hand signal. 

There may come a time in your life when you are faced with police officers who are attending an incident. It’s important that you know what signals to look out for, and what their meanings are. 

If traffic is approaching the police officer from the front, the officer will raise their arm up and signal a stop with the palm of their hand facing forwards. 

If traffic is approaching from behind the officer, their arm will be extended out to the left and the front of their hand will be facing the oncoming traffic. 

However, if traffic is approaching from both the front and behind, the police officer will combine both arm signals as mentioned above. 

What to do if a police officer signals you to stop?

You’ve identified that a police officer wants you to stop your vehicle, so, what’s next? The most important thing you can do is calmly check your surroundings and ensure that it is safe to do so before pulling over at a safe place.

Before pulling your vehicle over, you must check all your mirrors and blind spots before turning on your indicator. Once you have established that you’re in a safe position to stop, you may indicate left, slow your vehicle down, and then safely pull over before coming to a controlled stop.

Whilst police officers will always ensure the safety of other road users, it is also important that you pull over in an appropriate area, at a controlled speed, ensuring you are not placing other road users or pedestrians at risk.

Using your own judgement is key to ensuring the safety of yourself and others. Should you feel that you would be safer continuing to drive until a safe area becomes available, it would be best practice for you to signal to the officers that you’re following their instructions. This could be a simple acknowledgement such as a hand gesture. 

What should you do if a Police Officer flashes their lights at you?

Slightly less intimidating than blue flashing lights and a blaring siren, if a police officer flashes their headlights at you, this indicates that the officer wants you to pull up on the left-hand side as soon as it is safe to do so and bring your vehicle to a complete stop. 

If a police officer has refrained from switching on their blue lights and sirens, it is usually safe to assume that the matter is not of urgent nature. Still, you must calmly comply and pull over when it is safe to do so.

Now that we’ve unpacked how to safely stop your vehicle, it’s worth mentioning that you should also remain calm under these circumstances. 

We know that being pulled over is not exactly top of your bucket list, but it is extremely important that you comply in a lawful manner. 

Tom Brook

Tom Brook

I am a former Police Detective with years of knowledge and experience in investigating serious crimes across Scotland, working with communities and keeping the public safe. I aim to give back to the Policing community with this site!
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