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Bills Would Teach New Drivers How To Interact With Police, Behave During Traffic Stop

LANSING (WWJ) - A set of bills making their way through Lansing would develop protocol in Michigan for drivers, passengers and the police during a traffic stop.

The bipartisan effort, which lawmakers say is aimed at facilitating positive interactions between law enforcement officers and civilians during a traffic stop, was recently introduced in the state Senate.

Sen. Marty Knollenberg, who sponsored part of the three-bill package, says the ultimate goal is to standardize interaction between police officers, drivers and passengers during traffic stops and make an unpleasant situation safer and less stressful for all involved parties.

"It really gets to the heart of the young people who may have less experience in terms of dealing with a police officer and we want to educate them as to what they're expected to do," Knollenberg told WWJ's Charlie Langton. "It's for the police officer as well because they don't know what's in that car -- if a person is acting kind of nervous, they don't know if its because of nervousness or if you're trying to hide something. So, we're hoping that this education will make people more calm."

Senate Bills 805-807 would direct the secretary of state and Michigan State Police to develop a program on how to interact with law enforcement during a traffic stop. The "common sense" guidelines would be included in the current driver's education curriculum so students are familiar with what to do before getting a license.

"For example, putting your hands on the steering wheel, that would be a start, and not being frigidity and not opening up the glove box until you're told to do so," said Knollenberg.

The bills also instruct the secretary of state to provide a pamphlet that includes a summary of the developed material to drivers 25 and under who are renewing their license. Additionally, officers involved in a traffic stop must provide drivers with a business card that contains contact information where drivers can direct complaints.

The measure was inspired by a similar bipartisan effort that was adopted last year in Virginia.

"I think people understand that education is important and that's what we're trying to do here, is better educate both the driver and the law enforcement officer as to what their responsibilities are," said Knollenberg.

The legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Transportation for further consideration.

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