Here's Your 2017 Guide To Cop Car Headlights So You Know When To Slow Down

I know all of you are upstanding, law-abiding citizens. I know the very idea that you would violate the sacred trust that is known as a ‘speed limit’ is barely possible to comprehend. I get that. Even so, I suspect you might find this chart of police car headlight patterns handy, for, you know, purposes of general edification.

We did this a few years back, but police cars have changed, and there’s a greater variety of cop cars prowling our nation’s streets, so it seemed like it was time for an update.


What I have for you now is a chart of the headlight/DRL/parking light patterns of the eight most common police cars used in America today. These patterns are designed to show the standard nighttime running lights of the cars, and not any of the police-specific blue-and-red lights, because once those are on, you really don’t have any use for this chart, do you?

I’m showing all standard lamps illuminated; some patterns may differ slightly if only low beams are on, though some will still have the high-beam lamp’s shape visible, so keep that in mind.

Also, these patterns are generally close enough to the cop car’s stock civilian siblings that, if you use this chart, you may find yourself nervously slowing down because some assistant principal in, say, a Chevy Caprice is behind you. That’s just how it goes.

Anyway, even though I know you’d never have any need to know if a law enforcement official was driving behind you, I hope you’ll find this chart engaging, regardless.


Drive safely!

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About the author

Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)