Having taken a lot of road trips over the last week, there is one thing I've noticed that is very dangerous. Picture it: You're driving down I-10 at the speed limit when all of a sudden everyone slams on the brakes.

Needless to say, when the speed limit is 85 miles an hour and suddenly everyone is slamming the brakes, this seems a recipe for disaster. Of course, if a large deer is about to enter the road or there is a road hazard, a sudden need to slow down is understandable.  Still dangerous, but understandable.


But 99 times out of 100 when people start slamming on the brakes, its because there is a cop ahead.

Not only is this dangerous, but it is unnecessary for a number of reasons.   First of all, while Texas law requires drivers slow down for emergency activities, like an accident, road construction, or someone pulled over by the side of the road, simply passing a parked police vehicle with no lights flashing does not count as an emergency activity.

Police car pulling someone over on a snow covered country road.

Secondly, there are other reasons why a police officer could be parked by the side of the road.  According to a Reddit Post by a retired Police Sgt, named Robert Thibodeau, the officer might be writing a report. In that case, he might not even notice you at all. He might be just observing traffic or looking for drivers who draw attention to themselves by engaging in unsafe activities.

That might include, maneuvering in and out of traffic, travelling faster than surrounding traffic, or, yes, suddenly slamming on the brakes when observing a police car.

Thirdly, an officer may be using LIDAR or RADAR for speed detection.  In that case, the vast majority of times the officer has already identified you before you even see him.  This is especially true if he's using LIDAR.  Whether or not you slow down at this point, isn't going to make much of a difference. If the officer has already identified your speed and your vehicle, the decision to let you pass or initiate a traffic stop has already occurred.

A police office on the side of the road as he writes a ticket.

How many times have we all noticed a sudden traffic jam that seemingly has no cause whatsoever? It can be just one symptom of drivers over-reacting to a police vehicle by the side of the road.  We see this all the time in bigger Texas cities like Dallas and Houston and even happens in San Angelo, particularly on the Loop.

Photo by Tyler Clemmensen on Unsplash
Photo by Tyler Clemmensen on Unsplash

I really understand when drivers suddenly feel the need to slam the brakes when seeing a police vehicle.  It is an instinctive reaction for some of us. We all know speeding tickets are expensive and the ramifications for insurance rates etc. can be even more costly.  However, the costs of causing an accident for yourself or others is exponentially MORE expensive.  If you don't speed in the first place you have nothing to worry about.

See the Must-Drive Roads in Every State

More From ESPN 960 San Angelo