SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - The new year brings new legislation to life in North Carolina, including a rule aimed to make traffic stops safer for the driver and law enforcement.
As deadly encounters between law enforcement and drivers make headlines across the nation, the General Assembly passed House Bill 21. The new law requires instructors to describe "appropriate interactions with law enforcement officers."
Tracy Hogan, owner of East Coast Driving School in Wilmington, says this instruction is crucial to keep students and officers safe statewide.
"Occasionally I will have students come in and ask, 'Will they shoot us if they get in a traffic stop?'" Hogan said. "Typically, of course, I'm discussing with them possibilities of what went wrong in the situation because you always want to look at what could have been done better in the situation."
Hogan started teaching best practices for traffic stops in 2010. She reminds students to keep their hands on the wheel, turn on their interior lights and be respectful with the officer.
She brings troopers in to speak to her classes and demonstrate.
"They will put the student in the car and they will walk up and do a traffic stop as a police officer, then they will trade places," Hogan said. "They will say 'OK, I'm the person getting pulled over and I want you to be the police officer.'"
Hogan said these situational practices help the young drivers develop a plan to properly handle traffic stops and keep their emotions in check.