#1 – Here’s a little history
According to Marilyn Caylor “the ritual of touching a tail light actually goes back to the good old days of policing the highways. Before the invention of dash cams, policemen were super sneaky with their tactics. But don’t worry, they weren’t crooked cops or doing anything illegal. In fact, these law enforcement officers were actually hoping to catch the driver or passengers unawares. You see, it’s not uncommon for people to try and hide their illicit drugs or guns right after they are pulled over by a cop. Tapping the tail light has the benefit of startling these criminals before they can finish hiding their stash of ill-gotten goods.”
#2 – There is another reason to think about
The light not only is a way to startle any criminals potentially in the process of hiding their illegal activity, it could serve another purpose. Should the criminal decide to harm the cop, drive off, or both without the cop registering their information, his fingerprint will be on the rear light to identify the vehicle.
At least not in terms of catching a vehicle that has escaped. The tail-light tap is a practice that is less and less prevalent because cameras capture not only a license plate in most cases, but potential sketchy behavior by the driver as well. Those who still light-tap are probably just doing it out of habit.
#4 – In fact, many cops are told not to tap
While it probably does not make much of a difference, some police stations see the practice as one that could potentially put policemen in further harm’s way. If a criminal is looking to harm a cop, the logic says that the tapping on the tail light would make it easier for the criminal to identify the cop’s exact position.
#5 – Did you learn something?
Personally, we thought that the tapping technique was some kind of way to ensure that a tail light was functioning properly, but we were corrected by the facts. It is an old-school policing tactic meant to leave prints as well as interrupt potential criminal behavior. Now you know!