Why Do Police Officers Touch the Tail Light When They Pull?

As it turns out, it's not a superstition practice.

For anyone who drives a car, being asked by police to pull over is a common occurrence. This happens for different reasons. It can be because we’re not wearing a seatbelt, have been careless in driving, or were driving too close to another vehicle. After we get pulled over on the side of the road, another occurrence takes place — cops touch the tail light of our vehicle. Although this is a common occurrence, not all drivers understand why cops do this in the first place. Generally, police tap tail lights because of two reasons。


First, cops touch the tail light of our vehicles to leave behind evidence. This will prove that they were present at the scene when a dangerous situation takes place after a driver was asked to pull over. Once cops touch the tail light of a vehicle, it would show that there had been an interaction between them and the driver.

For example, if a driver shoots the police at the scene, it’ll be easy for the authorities to tie the driver to the crime. Aside from the dashcam installed in the police’s vehicle (which is often parked at the back of the driver’s vehicle, recording their interaction), the presence of the police’s fingerprint on the driver’s vehicle will serve as evidence.

Basically, the fingerprint of the police on another vehicle serves as a bread crumb, proving that they approached another driver before a crime took place.


Another reason why police tap tail lights are because they want to startle the driver. In some cases, drivers are pulled over because police suspect that they have dangerous drugs or firearms in their vehicles. By tapping the taillights, the driver will get distracted whenever they attempt to hide or throw away the contraband.

Most drivers don’t expect the noise of the tap when they’re being pulled over, so when they hear such noise, they will stop for a moment. They will startle for a few seconds, giving the police additional time to identify what the driver is trying to hide.

Takeaway Points

While some police rely on body cams to document interactions they have with drivers, others are still touching the tail light of the vehicles they decide to pull over. The latter might seem unnecessary to drivers, but for the police, this practice can help them with their jobs.