Many of us have had that sinking feeling while carefully driving along, following all the rules of the road and being courteous behind the wheel.

All of a sudden, from out of nowhere, comes a car with those flashing red lights right on your bumper.

It’s the police.

After cutting loose with that one expletive you vowed you’d never use, you realize you’d better pull over.

Which leads to a question from Warrior reader Don:

“The other night, I saw a Metro cop pull over another car on Martin Luther King Boulevard, which was really busy at that time. The motorist slowed when he or she saw the flashing lights behind, rolled along the road in the right lane for a few hundred feet, then pulled into the driveway of a business.

“It got me to wondering. What is the proper way to pull over when a cop wants you to? Should you try to get out of the traffic flow if you can? How about if it takes you a block or so until you find a safe place?”

First off, Don, I know it was you who was pulled over. You don’t have to say you saw somebody else get stopped.

So what should you — I mean that guy who got pulled over — have done?

Since I have no experience with this, at least none in the past 24 hours, I checked with both representatives of the Nevada Highway Patrol and the Metropolitan Police Department.

I rode shotgun with trooper Kevin McNeal on one of the department’s “Badge on Board” patrols in which an officer rides in the passenger seat of a 16-wheeler spotting traffic offenders, mostly for illegally using a cellphone while driving.

McNeal was among a team of other troopers tasked with pulling over a driver after the officer in the truck saw a violation.

The spotter identified a motorist traveling east on the 215 Beltway near Decatur Boulevard and told McNeal to cite him for illegal cellphone use.

The driver was taking the cloverleaf exit to northbound Interstate 15 and McNeal activated the red lights before he reached the ramp.

But the motorist didn’t stop. He accelerated onto the ramp and completed the three-quarters of a circle onto the I-15 collector that runs parallel to the freeway.

It was clear that McNeal was getting concerned that the motorist kept driving.

Finally, about a half-mile after reaching the collector road, the driver pulled over to the right. McNeal, clipboard in hand, got out of the NHP vehicle to have a chat.

When McNeal returned, I did my own interrogation.

Should he have stopped right away at the freeway exit?

“Yes, you should always pull over to the right as soon as you can.”

What were you thinking when the motorist just kept going?

“I wasn’t sure what he was going to do, but he definitely had some spots where he could have pulled over. I’m glad he finally did.”

What about if you’re in the city? Should you pull over right away, even if you’re on a busy street?

“You can check with Metro, but I think they, too, prefer that you pull over right away.”

So the lesson learned on the freeway is pull over to the right as soon as you can safely do so. A colleague of mine said she recently got stopped on the freeway and since she was closer to the center median than to the right, she pulled over to the left.

“He yelled at me for pulling over to the left. I thought that was the safest thing to do,” she said.

The key takeaway: Pull over to the right, not the left.

I took trooper McNeal’s advice and checked with Metro. They have the same mantra — pull over to the right, and do it as soon as possible.

“You don’t want to jerk over too abruptly and cause an accident,” said Jesse Roybal, public information officer with Metro.

“It’s a good idea to signal your intent to pull over or put on your flashers and ease your way over to the right,” he said. “If you pull into a private drive or into a parking lot, that’s OK. You just need to be sure to move to the right as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

It’s also a good idea to listen for instructions. Most police cars have loudspeaker systems that enable officers to give direction.

Once stopped, stay in the car. When the officer addresses you, follow instructions.

With any luck, you’ll get out of this with just a warning.


Several Warrior readers have inquired about the fabricated decorative features that populate the medians of local streets. As in, “Where do they get them, because I want something like that in my yard.”

From Margaret Kurtz of the city of Las Vegas:

“City of Las Vegas Operations and Maintenance Department staff now fabricate most of the structures used in the median island landscape improvements,” she said. “We find this to be cost-effective and results in a better quality product specifically suited for our purposes. The process for the in-house projects is a collaborative effort with discussion and input from our various very talented staff members. The only outside vendor used recently for some of the decorative elements is Desert Steel, an artistic metal fabrication company based in Newton, Kan.

“We purchase boulders and landscape rock from local vendors.”

Kurtz said that when the median island improvement program switched to steel decorations from live plants, the group sought low-cost installation and maintenance and aesthetically appealing features.

But don’t get any ideas about “borrowing” any of the features. All metal structures are bolted to large concrete foundations to deter theft, and sculptures are identified for ownership if theft recovery becomes necessary.

Kurtz said the public favorites are the rock-filled rebar saguaros, the faux-Joshua trees and the scorpions.

Originally posted in Las Vegas Review Journal