Tip of the Week - January 20, 2016 - How to React to a "Traffic Break"

Traffic breaks may be an everyday occurrence for a highway patrol officer, but not for the rest of us, which is why some drivers aren't sure how to react when it happens directly in front of them.  Traffic breaks are used by law enforcement officers to slow or stop traffic in emergency situations, to remove hazards from the roadway or to prevent collisions in heavy fog or heavy traffic.

So what do you do when an officer turns on his/her emergency lights, slows down and drives back and forth across all lanes of traffic?  According to the California Driver Handbook,

  • Activate your emergency flashers to warn other drivers there is a hazard ahead.
  • Slowly begin to decrease your speed. Do not slow abruptly unless it is necessary to avoid a collision. Slow to the same speed as the officer while keeping a safe distance from the patrol vehicle ahead of you.
  • Do not attempt to drive past the patrol vehicle. Do not accelerate until the patrol vehicle has turned off its emergency lights and traffic conditions ahead allow the return to normal speeds.

"It's important for you to assist the officer in front of you and fellow drivers behind you," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) Foundation Chairman Kenny Ehrman.   "Watch for the officer's cues, he/she will turn off his/heremergency lights, stay in one lane , and increase his/her speed when it's permissible for you to return to normal speed limits and driving."