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Driving is something that millions of people do every day, and there are many safety-related things that drivers have to think about when they’re on the road. For women in particular, however, one of their most common fears is being pulled over by someone who’s impersonating a cop. Here’s a look at that roadway crime, why it’s largely a car safety driving myth, and what to do if it actually happens to you.

Cop impersonators are rare on the road, but it can happen

Highway Patrol police officers pulling over a car in Nassau County, New York
Highway Patrol officers | J. Conrad Williams, Jr./Newsday RM via Getty Images

According to NetQuote, the top roadway fear for both men and women was being pulled over by someone who’s impersonating a police officer. Almost 48% of women and 35% of men said that this was their greatest fear on the road. For comparison, these numbers were significantly higher than the number of people who feared someone sneaking into their garage while they parked their car.

The good news is that, in reality, it is extremely uncommon to be pulled over by someone impersonating a police officer. It does happen, but it’s such a rare occurrence that it shouldn’t be something that drivers constantly fear. That being said, there have been a few high-profile cases in recent years.

For example, as iHeartRadio wrote, in 2020, a Canadian man went on a shooting spree while impersonating an officer. However, while this was a shocking incident that resulted in the deaths of 23 people, it is an extreme and rare example of cop impersonator crimes. In fact, most cop impersonators don’t seem to be dangerous at all. Instead, most cop impersonators seem to do it to impress themselves or others.

How to spot a fake cop crimes and what to do afterwards 

As a result, due to how rare this type of crime is, if you suspect that a fake cop is pulling you over, it’s best to assume they’re a real cop and follow the same tips for being pulled over. This means that you should drive to a public and crowded location, or a police station if you’re able to. 

However, in terms of making sure that a cop is an actual cop, this can be tricky. After all, most regular people won’t remember what an authentic police badge or ID will look like, and cars can easily look like a real cop car

However, there’s a relatively foolproof way to ensure that a cop is a real cop. iHeartRadio suggests that drivers who have doubts should call 911 and ask the operator if a police officer has pulled them over or not. On top of that, if the operator says that there are no police officers at your location, then you can ask for help immediately. 

A look at other common roadway accident and crime fears

Another common fear, according to NetQuote, is the idea that flashing your headlights could cause gang members to kill you as part of a gang initiation ritual. This is a fear that 15% of women and about 10% of men share, but once again, this is simply a driving myth. Its origins date back to the 1980s with motorcycle gangs. That said, it’s still a bad idea to flash your headlights for other reasons, as it could temporarily blind other drivers.

A more recent driving myth that has made some moves has to do with someone throwing a slice of cheese on your car. Some fear that “cheesing” means you’ve been marked for a future crime. In reality, however, it’s just a prank on social media, and it’s highly unlikely anything will come from getting cheesed.