16.140 - Traffic Direction and Control

Effective Date: 6/30/2003

I. Traffic Direction and Control

A. Officers may take personal charge of traffic control and direct traffic depending on the needs of the incident.

B. When directing traffic, the following rules will be observed:

1. Officers will ensure that they are visible by utilizing flashlights, reflective clothing and flares, especially during hours of darkness or adverse weather conditions.

2. Officers will utilize the police whistle or voice commands depending on the situation.

3. Officers will use uniform hand signals and gestures for manual traffic direction and control. It is important that officers position themselves so that their hand signals can be seen from a long distance. Two basic hand signals should be used. Officers should use an open hand, palm out sign to indicate “STOP”. To start traffic from a stopped position, officers should point towards the first stopped vehicle. Once the driver’s attention is gained, use the other hand to motion the driver to proceed.

4. When utilizing flares and cones, set them far enough from the collision scene to give sufficient warning to approaching traffic.

5. Traffic officers will have the responsibility of manually overriding traffic control devices when there is an excessive amount of traffic congestion (for example, special events or sporting events).

6. Officers should be prepared to stop traffic and give priority to other vehicles that may also be responding to the scene (for example, the Fire Department, tow companies, or Seattle Department of Transportation).

7. Officers assisting at a fire or rescue scene shall ensure that civilian traffic does not interfere with the respective operation. In no case should vehicles be allowed to drive over a fire hose, unless specifically directed by Fire Department personnel on the scene.