If you have ever been pulled over by the police, you may have noticed they often touch the back of your car as they approach your window. Usually it is the trunk, but sometimes it is the taillights. What is behind this car touching behavior. 

I talked with James Curtis who spent 23 years as a highway patrolman and has since retired. “I didn’t always do it, but that was something that was always taught,” said Curtis.  

There are three reasons officers will touch your car. 

Photo by Rosemary Ketchum: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-wearing-black-officer-uniform-1464230/
Photo by Rosemary Ketchum: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-wearing-black-officer-uniform-1464230/

Reason #1

According to Reader’s Digest is the officer is leaving his fingerprints on the vehicle. Should the driver get away, there is proof that he was there if they find the vehicle later. 

“If you get into a shoot-out and something happens and the getaway and the find the car, you have something there,” said Curtis. “Nowadays you have video, a body cam and a car cam, so you’re going to get a lot of that anyway. It’s probably not as critical today.” 

Reason #2

Moto Verso says it is also done to check the trunk and make sure it is closed. A quick push on the lid will make sure it is latched. 

“Checking the trunk was very important. You could be set up for an ambush situation. If you go there somebody could pop out,” said Curtis. 

Reason #3

It gives time for the officer to check out the passenger's body language according to Moto Verso. They have training to read body language and they can also see if anyone in the vehicle is reaching for a weapon or to hide something. 

Curtis agreed that this was part of the reason for approaching from behind the vehicle. 

So, now you know. The police officer isn’t trying to buff out your paint, he has certain reasons for touching back of your car. 

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