Lawmaker wants schools to teach students how to handle traffic stops

Posted at 10:12 PM, Jan 13, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. -- What are motorists expected to do when a police officer pulls them over?

"You talk to 10 different people, you're going to get 10 different answers," said Hampton Roads state delegate Jeion Ward (D-75th district).

And some of them, she added, will be wrong.

We went out and asked 10 drivers and indeed got mostly different answers, including "hide the drugs," "run" and "be respectful." (See video.)

This is why Ward has offered House Bill 2290 requiring students in Virginia driver's education programs be taught how they should conduct themselves when pulled over by law enforcement.

She said it should be no different than teaching the rules of the road and other safe driving practices, such as not drinking alcohol or texting.

Check around, you can get plenty of advice about what to do with your hands, your windows, your lights, what you should say and not say when you're stopped.

Hampton Roads state delegate Jeion Ward

Hampton Roads state delegate Jeion Ward

Requiring it be taught, Ward said, would force law enforcement agencies to come up with uniform and legal recommendations so there's no confusion.

"This should put everybody on the same page," Ward said. "Law enforcement is looking for this and drivers, this is what you're supposed to do."

More than a few recent police shootings have started with simple traffic stops.

Law enforcement leaders say it's among their very most dangerous and unpredictable tasks.

"It could be a small situation," Ward said. "But then with everyone upset, not quite knowing what to do, it could turn into a major situation just because you didn't know exactly what to do. You get nervous!"

"This is for everybody," added Ward, a member of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus. "It doesn't matter your color" age or driving experience, she said.

HB-2230 is one of some 2300 bills this legislative session.