Interesting conversation with a cop the other day...

B

Bill Idaho

Newly Enlightened
Joined
May 1, 2010
Messages
116
A few days ago I was standing on the side of the road talking with a former fellow patrol deputy. He is a current SWAT team member, and I retired a few years ago as a sniper on the team. I was driving by and saw him there doing paperwork, so I decided to stop.
Anyway......
As we were getting caught up on all the departmental gossip, a well-seasoned STEP cop pulls up to assist in our gab-session. After standing there for a few minutes, the STEP cop glances over my shoulder and asks me if that was my Dodge.( A 2003 2500.) I nodded and we continued with our conversation. Finally after a few more minutes, the STEP cop says " Hey, I just have to ask....what the heck is that single red light on your bumper? (I have three HAM radio antennas sprouting from my rig, and I must admit, it might very well look like an unmarked cop rig.) " Is that an old unmarked rig, or some type of emergency flasher?"
I said "No, it's a rear fog light (a Peterson 850). I figured you, as the valleys ultimate traffic law guru, would recognize one when you see one..." (Hoping he detected a hint of sarcasm.) "They're all over in Europe, in the last few years American cars are coming out with them. Getting rear-ended in the fog is a real problem- for everybody involved."

"Hmmm, I'll be darned. Can I see it? Turn it on." It was right at dusk, so sure. I started my rig, turned on the required lights, and lit it up. He walks back about ten paces, turns and looks, then back to about 75 yards and stares at it for a few seconds. Finally he walks up and says "I have GOT to get one of those".


And we then continued with going over the latest chat at the S.O.
 
Q

Qship1996

Enlightened
Joined
Jan 30, 2010
Messages
466
Great story! I have the exact same light, coming up on 4 years since installed if I recall correctly.I never imagined how useful it would become until moving to the beach in Delaware- thick fog is common along the beach roads, and heavy rain/blizzard conditions also have had me use it way more than I initially thought I would have had to.My simple acid test whether it needs to be illuminated is to simply look at the vehicles ahead of me, if weather conditions makes them hard to see, ON it goes.
 
V

-Virgil-

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 26, 2004
Messages
7,755
What's a STEP cop?
 
B

Bill Idaho

Newly Enlightened
Joined
May 1, 2010
Messages
116
There are a couple of versions of the term "STEP". Specific Traffic Enforcement Patrol, Special Traffic Enforcement Patrol, or Selective Traffic Enforcement Patrol. ---either way, those are the guys that do nothing but deal with traffic codes. Driving/equipment violations, crashes, etc. Due to the nature of that assignment, they are usually pretty well versed in traffic/equipment codes. Depending on the weather/region-often on motorcycles. They don't go call to call shagging paper on burgs/thefts/barking dogs, etc.---like the rest of us knuckledraggers had to.
I was on patrol, as well as a SWAT sniper, but got in as many t-stops as I could. And, wouldn't you know it------I leaned on lighting violations at the drop of the proverbial hat! Those green neon lights underneath lighting up the pavement around the car??---press hard 5 copies. Those smoked headlight covers??---press hard 5 copies. Tinted license plate cover??---press hard 5 copies. Fail to dim your (oncoming or rear approaching_ high beams??---press hard 5 copies. The vast majority of Idaho vehicle equipment codes are pretty straightforward. Admittedly somewhat lacking in some respects, but for the most part-----white or amber(?) only visible from the front, red or yellow from the rear. The only white from the rear is the license plate light. Blue light, visible at all (and technically a blue light does not even need to be turned on!) is a definite press-hard-5-copies. We take unauthorized blue light REAL serious. No warning for those. (Unless Idaho code changed in the last three years, it sates (from memory)--
Only authorized emergency vehicle shall display blue lights, lenses, or globes. And, no, I have no idea what exactly a blue "globe" is.

Don't be hatin", I'm retired.
 
Q

Qship1996

Enlightened
Joined
Jan 30, 2010
Messages
466
How does Uber/Lyft get away with their cars displaying bright green or blue lit signs in the windows of their drivers? Very distracting.
 
J

jaycee88

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Jan 13, 2015
Messages
156
On the road today I saw what appeared to be a car approaching in reverse in the opposite direction. When it got closer I realized it was a late model Dodge Charger with the DRL's modified to red! They looked exactly like taillamps.
 
B

Bill Idaho

Newly Enlightened
Joined
May 1, 2010
Messages
116
Firstly, I retired right before Uber/Lyft started. However--Call the Uber/Lyft admin. Certainly they have company/corporate policy pertaining to their drivers following state/local laws and codes. That would be a relatively easy fix.
Secondly, if I was still a working man..........press hard, 5 copies.

Call the local LE and complain. If possible, get a plate number. But----if enough people complain, the admin WILL HAVE TO START ENFORCEMENT. Always end your complaint with the mention of calling the local TV news. For some reason that tends to help.
 
lightfooted

lightfooted

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
May 6, 2010
Messages
1,008
A blue globe is exactly what it sounds like...a reference to the old "gumball dispenser machine" style lights from the '60s to the late '70s. Sometimes they just had fixed lights in them that were steady glowing and others had a slow flash to them in addition to the actual rotating types.
 
J

JAS

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Nov 16, 2002
Messages
1,228
Location
Rosemount
Interesting Conversation With A Cop The Other Day...

...press hard, 5 copies...

I retired at the end of 2010. While I wasn't in patrol when I retired, the Patrol Division already had Electronic Ticket Writers. Maybe you are just saying "press hard, 5 copies" in jest, but in all seriousness, they MUST have E-ticket writers now, don't they?
 
B

Bill Idaho

Newly Enlightened
Joined
May 1, 2010
Messages
116
Re: Interesting Conversation With A Cop The Other Day...

Funny you should bring that up. Idaho State Police use E-tickets state wide. I know of one small town in my area (a town of about 1500 people!) that uses them. I think that's about it in my area! For now. Slowly departments will switch over.
 
V

-Virgil-

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 26, 2004
Messages
7,755
Re: Interesting Conversation With A Cop The Other Day...

Today I learned about STEP cops! Thanks, Bill. Sure wish there were more "Press hard, 5 copies" type of enforcement against noncompliant lighting. The problem seems to be getting worse at an exponential pace. Lately it seems like the blinking-CHMSL scammers have been stepping up their game; I'm seeing a lot more of them on the roads.

But the problem is implied in post #7, "if enough people complain". The problem is, not enough people complain because not enough people care. If we could cherry-pick pieces of the past to bring back, my list would be short, but it would include thorough periodic inspection of vehicle lighting as described in this 1967 PM article. OK, laws of physics mean no time travel, so that's out, but we could just import the idea from Germany. No time machine needed, just some headlight aiming machines!

As far as rear fog lamps go, you might point Officer(s) STEP at this explainer if they haven't seen it already.
 
S

SubLGT

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Nov 18, 2013
Messages
1,183
Location
Idaho, USA
Re: Interesting Conversation With A Cop The Other Day...

https://abc3340.com/news/nation-world/too-bright-headlights-may-make-driving-at-night-less-safe

...In order for [ Utah Highway Patrol] troopers to be able to write citations for lights that are too bright, they would need a lumen meter that had guaranteed accuracy. [Trooper] Street says the UHP has been experimenting with some top-of-the-line light meters and found them to be inconsistent.

...Trooper Bowen said: "State law requires that there can't be more than 300 candle power from the headlights 75 feet in front of the vehicle."

...Enforcement of those rules is not happening in the state of Utah. Troopers don't have a tool to measure whether or not the light coming out of headlamps is within the legal limit...
 
S

SubLGT

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Nov 18, 2013
Messages
1,183
Location
Idaho, USA
Re: Interesting Conversation With A Cop The Other Day...

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com...-cause-problems-heres-how-got-way/2356307002/

"New York State Police and local law enforcement enforce the section of the vehicle and traffic law pertaining to lighting," wrote DMV spokesperson Tim O'Brien.

But how do the State Police go about enforcing the law? State Police spokesperson Beau Duffy explained the reality of the situation.

"Troopers do not have a means to measure the candlepower of a headlamp," Duffy said. "Or check every lamp for conformance with DMV/DOT standards."

But state troopers can stop people for other brightness related violations.

"Troopers enforce VTL 375 2(a)4(b) if, in the judgment of the Trooper, the headlamps are producing dangerous glare or dazzle, the operator will be ticketed," Duffy said.

But dangerous glare and dazzle is in the eye of the beholder, so to speak.
 
B

Bill Idaho

Newly Enlightened
Joined
May 1, 2010
Messages
116
Re: Interesting Conversation With A Cop The Other Day...

I would concentrate on the simple codes-such as the colors allowed for various lights. Those codes alone were (are) simple enough such that I could enforce them with ease. (Never lost one when they did go to court.)
Side note: I can't tell you guys how many times I pulled someone over for having their high beams on as I passed them (or they drove up from behind, blinding me). 99% of the time, after asking why they didn't dim their headlights (with the most common reply being they weren't aware of their headlight being on high-beam) I could simply look at the dash and see the little blue indicator. Then I would ask them what that blue light was for. Crickets.................
A very common response from the offender would be "But I bought them at the parts store!" My response would be "Yeah, they sell beer at the store too, but that doesn't make it ok to drink and drive..", or "I would wager good money somewhere on the packaging it said something along the lines of "Check local laws and regulations before installation." Again, crickets.............
Those tinted headlight and license plate covers.....easy to enforce. Idaho even has a code saying a dealer cannot sell a vehicle with any illegal equipment installed (in this case related to lighting). Admittedly, I don't think anyone has stroked a dealer yet.
 
Alaric Darconville

Alaric Darconville

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 2, 2001
Messages
5,350
Location
Stillwater, America
Re: Interesting Conversation With A Cop The Other Day...

Idaho even has a code saying a dealer cannot sell a vehicle with any illegal equipment installed (in this case related to lighting). Admittedly, I don't think anyone has stroked a dealer yet.
Can you put a bug in the STEP cop's ear about flashing CHMSLs? You know, the "PulseProtects"/"BrakeSafe" stuff?
 
alpg88

alpg88

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Apr 19, 2005
Messages
3,943
they do not need light meters in most cases, in case of annoying blinding hid\led kits all they need to do is pop the hood, and see bulbs that are not oem, it would not be hard to see, ballasts igniters, strapped with zip ties. but will they bother to do so, and do all have knowledge what none oem parts look like? that is a different story, i see dozens of those led\hid kits, daily, you can spot most of them with a naked eye, flashing stop lights too, but they are not nearly as annoying as someone with kits following you
 
John_Galt

John_Galt

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Feb 20, 2009
Messages
1,736
Location
SW, PA
This thread is relevant to my interests, having just moved to idaho for some schooling.

Interesting to learn about the STEP officers. Idaho's codes seem, from my googling, even more wide open than Pennsylvanias, so its interesting that they have an entire department devoted just to these.

On the topic of lighting... tinted lenses... all I see is a restriction on non-oem "head lamps which are composed of, covered by, or treated with any material, substance, system, or component which, when such head lamps are not in operation, is highly reflective or otherwise opaque and nontransparent."

So a transparent coating, or a non reflective coating is legal? E.g. Dan Sterns page here https://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/lights/light_color/light_color.html The tinting towards selective yellow not being reflective, or opaque whether lamp is off or not.

I also don't see explicit lighting color requirements for headlamps. Marking lamps, turn signals, brake lights, yes, in Idaho 49-910 and 49-910A touch on side marker lamps, clearance lanos, etc etc, with 49-910A restricting all blue for police only. Not seeing a headlamp or foglamp color requirement. I havent seen a reference to the federal guidelines for this, either. Does Idaho state just leave that to federal CFR 49 SS108?

Haven't had to do much driving as moscow is pretty walkable, but haven't really seen much enforcement of lighting regs. Someone in my apartment complex has green filters over what are ostensibly their jeeps fog lamps, verh annoying to see. Theres another grand cherokee that has about 9 lightbars strapped to the front of it, all uncovered, including two 6" spot style pods mounted basically in front of the completely hazed over oem headlamps. So ymmv
 
Alaric Darconville

Alaric Darconville

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 2, 2001
Messages
5,350
Location
Stillwater, America
Not seeing a... foglamp color requirement. I havent seen a reference to the federal guidelines for this, either. Does Idaho state just leave that to federal CFR 49 SS108?
FMVSS 108 mentions fog lamps only twice. The first to say they can't be used as DRLs, the second to say they must be lit during the temperature and internal heat test if they are part of the headlamp assembly. Other than that, fog lamps are not regulated at the federal level.
 
Hilldweller

Hilldweller

Enlightened
Joined
Dec 17, 2009
Messages
663
Location
Hog Waller, GA
There are a couple of versions of the term "STEP". Specific Traffic Enforcement Patrol, Special Traffic Enforcement Patrol, or Selective Traffic Enforcement Patrol. ---either way, those are the guys that do nothing but deal with traffic codes. Driving/equipment violations, crashes, etc. Due to the nature of that assignment, they are usually pretty well versed in traffic/equipment codes. Depending on the weather/region-often on motorcycles. They don't go call to call shagging paper on burgs/thefts/barking dogs, etc.---like the rest of us knuckledraggers had to.
I was on patrol, as well as a SWAT sniper, but got in as many t-stops as I could. And, wouldn't you know it------I leaned on lighting violations at the drop of the proverbial hat! Those green neon lights underneath lighting up the pavement around the car??---press hard 5 copies. Those smoked headlight covers??---press hard 5 copies. Tinted license plate cover??---press hard 5 copies. Fail to dim your (oncoming or rear approaching_ high beams??---press hard 5 copies. The vast majority of Idaho vehicle equipment codes are pretty straightforward. Admittedly somewhat lacking in some respects, but for the most part-----white or amber(?) only visible from the front, red or yellow from the rear. The only white from the rear is the license plate light. Blue light, visible at all (and technically a blue light does not even need to be turned on!) is a definite press-hard-5-copies. We take unauthorized blue light REAL serious. No warning for those. (Unless Idaho code changed in the last three years, it sates (from memory)--
Only authorized emergency vehicle shall display blue lights, lenses, or globes. And, no, I have no idea what exactly a blue "globe" is.

Don't be hatin", I'm retired.
People in this area are running red/pink/purple/green halos on the front of their cars and trucks.

I'm a CERT instructor and am usually just with the EMA crowd but sometimes EMS for SAR and with the Marshalls for other drills. We did a Multi-Agency Escalating Incident drill last year and were sitting around afterward assessing and shooting the breeze. So I brought up the topic of lights.
Several of the responding fire trucks had cheap Asian headlights that the boys got off Amazon. Most of the officers didn't realize that the Disney halo lights were illegal.
sigh

Virgil knows about this one.
Spyder sent me a set of their new sequential tail-lights to evaluate. After consulting with Virgil and Dan Stern about them, I came up with only one deficiency and wanted to talk to a county STEP about it. Met him at the barracks, showed him the tail-lights, and he said they looked fine to him.
When I pointed out the one feature not in compliance he said, "I see worse every day..."


Can you put a bug in the STEP cop's ear about flashing CHMSLs? You know, the "PulseProtects"/"BrakeSafe" stuff?
Dealerships around here are installing them pre-delivery as a dealer-installed option. I spoke to one service writer about that and told him that it renders the vehicle non-compliant, ergo illegal to sell. He shrugged his shoulders.

I think there's just too many other crimes going on in the Metro-Atlanta area for LE to give a fart about lights.
 
M

Magio

Enlightened
Joined
Jul 30, 2016
Messages
244
they do not need light meters in most cases, in case of annoying blinding hid\led kits all they need to do is pop the hood, and see bulbs that are not oem, it would not be hard to see, ballasts igniters, strapped with zip ties. but will they bother to do so, and do all have knowledge what none oem parts look like? that is a different story, i see dozens of those led\hid kits, daily, you can spot most of them with a naked eye, flashing stop lights too, but they are not nearly as annoying as someone with kits following you

Around here there are plenty of vehicles with kits in the headlights. But the worst offenders at glare are the miss aimed OEM headlights and those are far more common than the kits. An officer trying to enforce the law on glare would probably feel he is waiting his time after stopping most of the cars with blinding headlights and finding out they are not modified.
 
Last edited:

Similar threads

Top