Police Reveal 4 Common Ways to Get Pulled Over

Here’s what not to do if you want to avoid that next traffic ticket.

Common ways to get pulled over

We’ve all seen it — someone changing lanes without signaling. Or a person driving while texting. And, if we’re honest, maybe we’ve even been that person. Nobody’s perfect. But when you’re trying to avoid being pulled over (which most of us are), it helps to know more about those bad driving habits we’ve all been (admittedly) guilty of at some point.

Edmunds.com polled 3 police agencies to get an idea of the most common driving no-no’s that cops encounter.

So, in the ongoing interest of helping us all become model motorists, here’s what Johnny Law had to say:


(pulled over because you can’t drive 55 … in a 35 mph zone)

In the Edmunds survey, every cop surveyed listed stopping speeding drivers as a main priority. So why do police officers key in on speeders? Well, issuing speeding tickets has a huge impact on safety. For every 100 extra speeding citations given in a month, there are 14.3 fewer crashes and 5.6 fewer injuries.

Point is, if your need for speed gets the better of you, be prepared to put your money where your lead foot is — a whopping 34 million speeding tickets are handed out each year in the U.S.

Distracted driving

(pulled over because you’re texting, emailing, eating, and driving)

The police officers surveyed say their main reasons for giving distracted-driving tickets include illegal texting and driving or other dangerous cell phone use. And with good reason, too. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a stunning 40 percent of U.S. teens admit to having been in a car while the driver used a cell phone in an endangering way. We don’t know about you, but it seems this phenomenon can’t get enough police intervention.

Equipment violations

(pulled over because those windows are just a bit too dark)

Equipment offenses are easy bait for tickets because they’re so simple to spot. A police officer doesn’t have to make any judgments about the situation. Rather, he or she can simply see that something isn’t up to code and make a move. According to the cops surveyed, the most glaring violation (pun intended) was illegal window tints. Following that were burned-out lights, broken windshields, and expired license plate tags.

Tailgating and improper lane changes

(pulled over because you’re bound to cause an accident)

These 2 violations ranked as equally important on the Edmunds study. Both are reckless maneuvers that cops said they monitor closely. One police officer even qualified exactly what he thinks is considered a dangerous lane change: cutting someone off or moving without looking.

Using the left lane for cruising instead of passing, driving too slowly, and squealing your tires are also high on the list.

Use common sense

When reviewing these offenses, it’s not exactly a surprise that they attract attention. True, you can’t control what other people will do on the road. But you can control yourself. So next time you notice you’re about to fall into one of these habits, think about the repercussions. Safe driving is good for you and everyone else on the road.

Want to learn how these driving no-no’s can impact your car insurance? Check out our moving violations insight center.

Related link

7 humiliating driving mistakes

146 Responses to “Police Reveal 4 Common Ways to Get Pulled Over”

  1. mark Jackson
    October 10, 2013 #

    Whats the law on eating and driving ?

    • Eric
      November 17, 2014 #

      there really is not one but if your driving is erratic and your eating you're subject to a ticket…

    • Daphne Adams
      November 17, 2014 #

      Yes, what is the Law for eating and driving. I never eat and drive but is there a law, and it should be a law for the buses and tractor trailers who try to get in front of you and just basically push you in another lane… Because they are so much bigger they feel they have the rights of intimidation….

      • David kelley
        November 21, 2014 #

        Its a matter of courtesy. If the driver in the car would be kind enough to give the truck enough space to move instead of blocking them from changing, then the truck wouldn't have to force his way over.

      • Bob St Arnauld
        November 22, 2014 #

        BS about the trucks. Federal study shows that 93 percent of accidents between trucks and 4 wheelers (cars, small trucks, etc.) are the fault of the smaller vehicle.While there are exceptions, most truckers are trained professionals that do not want to do something that will cause getting a ticket. A ticket for a truck driver is way more than for a car driver for the same offense and can cause loss of job.

  2. valerie
    October 20, 2013 #

    Yes,left lane is for passing not crusing in. But I must comment on the police there watching us for turn signals,speeding etc. Right but but who's watching them? I see them driving a high rate of speed passed me . I could see clear for atleast 2 miles he wasn't in pursuit of anyone or no emergency.he was just going to a convenient store.not fair.

  3. col. tom
    October 24, 2013 #

    My biggest pet peeve is the driver who enters afreeway and expects you to drive their car for them. They have the whole ramp to regulate their speed to coincide with freeway speed.

    • Accidie
      November 24, 2013 #

      Amen to that col. Tom

    • Heather
      December 19, 2013 #

      Oh my god AMEN!!! I thought I was the only one who goes crazy when I'm merging on the highway behind a moron still going 35mph like he was back when we were still on the side streets!!!! Uhh….it just kills me.

    • Bob St Arnauld
      November 22, 2014 #

      Exactly! The on ramp is an acceleration lane, get up to highway and merge smoothly.

    • Don
      November 24, 2014 #

      Could be he's going somewhere that he doesn't want light or siren on, like holdup alarm.

  4. vg
    November 23, 2013 #

    Absolutely nonsense

  5. George H Freeman
    December 1, 2013 #

    Having served as a LEO I was told that if a person is driving too safe then they are suspect, as well as if driving too slow, or erratically. Sometimes a LEO will stay back to observe you, if they suspect you are driving impaired or acting suspiciously in their judgment. Or they drive above posted speed limit to catch speeders on radar. And they never hide or conceal themselves they just are in a safe place to observe traffic. Best one was the CHP black and white unit who used to sit behind cattle guard among the black and white dairy cattle below grade where Sears point used to be. Or sit in shade under over passes on interstates. And yes as a LEO you can drive above speed limit and/or break most traffic laws as long as you can justify your actions. You can pull over any motorist to investigate possible faulty equipment. As far as searching anything visible to your eyes or flashlight beam can be cause to investigate. There are many red flags to alert to as a LEO and the LEO has probable cause to investigate such.

  6. JT
    December 2, 2013 #

    Regarding this report raises questions to me as how observant everyone is about the laws, civilian and policeman alike.

    1) Speeding: I am a road warrior, logging in over 1,000 highway miles every month. I always drive with my cruise-control set to the posted speed limit. I am not an OTR semi driver either. Yet I am always getting passed on the road by everyone else…as if for most people, the posted speed limit (which in Iowa is 70mph between metro areas), just isn't fast enough. Yet, the worst offenders that pass me like I'm standing still, never get pulled over.

    2) Equipment Violations: When I lived in Illinois, I was pulled over once for having tinted side windows, which is illegal in Illinois. I bought my car used, and as is from a dealership. I returned my car to the dealership and had the tint removed at no cost to me. Yet, in Illinois, Iowa, and other states that I travel, I have seen many vehicles, with normal plates like mine, with limousine tint on their windows, (mainly sports cars). Yet I have not seen them, nor heard any stories, reports, or testimony that they have ever gotten pulled over for having tinted windows.

    3) Tailgating: My driver's Ed taught me this: if you can read the license plate of the car your following, you are tailgating someone. If you can't see the license plate of the car behind you (during the day), or you either blinded by bright headlights or can't see the headlights of the car behind you, you are being tailgated. I see this a lot too, many times while passing a stationary highway patrolman. Yet…nothing happens.

    I know I am opening myself up for criticism and even "targeted observation", but the law is the law. If I have to follow it as a civilian, then the police have to enforce it.

  7. Tiredofsuffering
    December 6, 2013 #

    Every action have a reaction the law protect lives u and I simply know but laws are made by lawbreakers who get paid for blasting everyone but themselves.

  8. walt smeltzer
    December 21, 2013 #

    When you see lights from behind while driving on the autobahn in the left lane, you better move over fast!

  9. Cappii
    January 12, 2014 #

    For everyone complaining about officers "violating traffic laws," if they were on their way to help you or your family member, you'd want them to violate the laws. These men and women have a hard enough job without you being a jerk and trying your best to make it more difficult than it needs to be. Please use common sense and let them do their jobs.

    • Todd
      June 30, 2014 #

      I don't think anyone is complaining about an officer speeding with their lights on because they are on their way to an emergency. I think the complaints are about officers just breaking the law because they can, not becuase they have a good reason to do so.

      • Mike
        October 8, 2014 #

        Not every call an officer goes on allows them to run "code" aka blue lights and siren. So when an alarm or a domestic violence situation is happening they expedite within reason without lights and siren. If that was a person you knew getting beaten or your house alarm wouldn't you want them to respond rapidly? The list of non-code able calls is long. Think about it next time a cop is going 10-15 over the speed limit.

  10. Roger Smith
    January 25, 2014 #

    This article forgot about two things:

    1. the end of the month quota period. Be on the look out for increased highway patrol activity during the last ten to fifteen days of the month.

    2. DWB – yep it's real. Many of my friends and colleagues have been needlessly pulled over for absolutely nothing. I didn't believe it my self until I was with a friend and we were pulled over 3 TIMES in one day for absolutely nothing. He did buy a Mercedes the weekend before though.

  11. tommy sikes
    March 31, 2014 #

    I am a retired Texas Lawman.It makes me nervous to be followed by any kind of Law Enforcement Officers too.Here are some pointers for you.If an officer turns on his lights to stop you then stop as quickly as you safely can.Stay in your vehicle.Do not rummage around looking for insurance or proof of registration until the Officer approaches your vehicle and asks for it.Be respectful to the Officer.Recenty i was going a little over the speed limit when a marked unit sitting in the barrow ditch turned on his lights as i approached his vehicle.I pulled over directly accross from him.He said that was his shortest "chase" he had ever had.He commented he didn't understand why some people just keep driving before they finally stop.I told him i was a retired Officer and knew to stop as soon as possible.I also appoligized for speeding (5 miles over the limit).I wasn't paying attention to my speed.I received a written warning.

    • Marina
      May 20, 2014 #

      I used to think people who don't stop were trying to get away, and that may be the case some times, but after living in Iowa a while I realized many people simply don't notice anything. When an emergency vehicle approached from behind me, I and usually (but not always) a few other drivers would pull off to the right, but most would just continue as if nothing was happening. On several occasions I saw people driving along with a huge firetruck behind them with all lights and sirens on, but they didn't react at all. I see no reason to believe these drivers were being obstructive on purpose; they were just too impaired to notice anything.
      The scary part is that nothing whatsoever was done to keep these people from driving!

  12. Bill
    April 22, 2014 #

    Today I got in my truck in the university parking lot after a grueling day of grading tests, and trying to prep my students for finals. When I got in, an old guy pulled in front of me, and motioned for me to roll my window down. I did enough to hear him, but the truck was running. He never showed a badge, was not driving a marked car, but his attitude was pure cop. He proceeded to chastize me because my inspection sticker was expired and leave with veiled threats of impending doom–it was an expired inspection sticker for goodness sake. My ex wife beat the hell out of the truck, and I need to wait for a paycheck to repair it–I can't do anything to her. Why?

  13. Jeffrey Donadio
    July 13, 2014 #

    The bottom line for all of you is to obey all laws, always! Stay out of the way of the vehicle behind you. Let the police do their jobs. Worry about your own driving habits. If another vehicle is not driving safely, get their plate number and report the incident when it is safe to do so. Stay off your cell phone unless it is an emergency while you are driving, and even then, use caution and make the conversation as quickly as you can and hang up! There are too many people doing everything but paying attention to their surroundings! I've towed for twenty years, and I've seen the worst accidents! Most are from people that just don't drive defensively enough. They must be doing something else besides concentrating on their car operating safely in public with others. Please use common sense at all times. Take breaks as often as you need to.

  14. Jonathan Nagel
    August 6, 2014 #

    Using a cellphone in a dangerous way? Since when did a cellphone become a weapon? Last time I checked it was not illegal to speak on your cell while driving. People are allowing these sort of things to happen where a police can do anything to stop you. I will not have my 4th amendment rights violated and am prepared to take my case to the Supreme Court. I was ticketed for violating the law for using my cell in am emergency here in Texas. There is no law banning the use of a cellphone while driving.. Some of you people may like your new police state but I do not..

    • Carollee Schick
      November 14, 2014 #

      you are incorrect. there is laws in several states that say you can NOT talk on your cell and drive. you MUST have a hands free device. my state, New Jersey happens to be one of them. so maybe you should check up on your state laws and see if yours is also one of them.

    • Chelsea
      November 24, 2014 #

      My friend died because some dude was on his cellphone and was distracted. THAT'S why it's dangerous.

  15. I Love Jesus
    August 19, 2014 #

    TEXAS , Police & State Troopers. They ( DO NOT CARE ) if a Driver is Going 60 in a 75mph speed zone in the Passing Lane… they just pass in the RIGHT LANE .. I have live in this state 3 yrs… & ALL The drivers that LOVE that Passing Lane , Need to retake the test, & learn what it's for or GET TICKETED , better yet !!!! Texas State Trooper need to do the JOB… Ticketed Them Passing Lane Drivers… Before they get Me or One of Our Family Memderd Killed …..Remember Mr or Ms Officer Yall Work for US, The Tax Payers,,,So Protect US on them Roads Esp. In Texas !!!!!

  16. Gary
    September 13, 2014 #

    how was this right-I'm driving back from Cape Cod at 11:30pm no cars on the road I'm doing the speed limit I'm in the left lane cause I just came off single lane road A car comes up at high speed and flashes high beams blinding me and tailgates so close I can't see the car anymore. I can't see to pull over so I take my foot off gas to slowly decelerate and hopefully this car backs off or goes around. Instead overhead bright lights come on further blinding me. as it pulls slightly left to shine high beams in my drivers side mirror. Then the blue lights come on ya a state cop who gives me a $105 ticket for obstructing traffic flow he says. I have a spotless driving record was cortious and put my inside light on did everything you should

    • Carollee Schick
      November 14, 2014 #

      If you saw any car coming up on you quickly while you are in the passing lane you should have put your turn signal on and pulled into the right hand lane. you actually were blocking traffic in the fast lane, even if it was only you and he on the road.

      • Operation SunriseLAW
        November 22, 2014 #

        Police and law enforcement is NOT supposed to be that aggressive in following rules and laws. If there is no PUBLIC SAFETY issue then generally they should not stop a person or pull someone over.
        Sooner than you know, cars will be driverless and human driving will be illegal. The technology being rolled out at this time will eliminate speeding, accidents, or any need for police to monitor traffic flow.
        My long experience? Cops and their paranoia and over-reaction ARE the crime problem in America. I fear the police far more than the "crooks". 3w, RisePatriot dtcm

    • Gene
      November 23, 2014 #

      Stay out of the left hand lane Gary, unless you are passing…that's the law. At 11:30 at night I suspect the LEO was checking for impairment. You gVe him a great excuse for pulling you…the whole point of this article: don't give cops a resonant to stop you.

  17. Brandon
    September 22, 2014 #

    What are they going to do when we have mostly self driving cars on the road which make few if any mistakes?

    I mean what are they going to do for a source of revenue? because anyone that knows how to think for themselves knows that a good number of these laws exist solely to create revenue.

  18. Erica Mancuso
    November 16, 2014 #

    My daughter was pulled over last night for speeding in cook county on the interstate. After issuing her ticket the state trooper immediately left the scene.

    Moments after the officer left another car had a blow out, lost control of their vehicle and slammed directly into my daughters car. Both cars are totaled…. Thankful everyone is okay. My daughter was pinned in her car, she had to be extricated….

    I'm a bit angry with the officer. She was on her way home from a friends house out of state (it was 1am on a Saturday night) and is a young driver with only 3 years drivers experience. I feel that the officer has a duty to "protect and serve", he should've had stayed until she safely re-entered the highway.

    I want to know is their a rule for the officer to do just that? Was it okay for him to leave her sitting there? I would think that's standard procedure for an officer (to stay with the vehicle until he knows it's safe).

    Oh…here is a tidbit, she was asked by the officer that came to the accident scene for her ticket (because she no longer had identification. She had to relinquish it to the officer that wrote the ticket). Now we do not have the name of the officer that I feel was at fault for not watching out for her safety.

    Amy thoughts as to what the duty of that officer was?

    • Jennifer Wood
      November 17, 2014 #

      Hi Erica,

      I'm so glad your daughter is safe!
      As far as the officer's responsibility, I would recommend contacting the department he works for in order voice your concern and perhaps get a better understanding of why he responded the way he did.


    • Franklin Overby
      November 22, 2014 #

      Cook County? 'Nuff said.

  19. Jeff
    November 23, 2014 #

    Policemen are not as altruistic as the more naive tend to believe. Where I live they are always tailgating aggressively to intimidate. As soon as the driver gets nervous and speeds up, slows down, and honks, or does anything at all they are pulled over and cited, I see it every day and have experienced it numerous times. I almost never see an officer come to a complete stop at a stop sign. Yesterday I was entering a freeway on ramp and nearly collided with a police car that was backing down the curved blind ramp in reverse at high speed. Then he proceeded to do a U-turn in the on ramp, endangering multiple lives. I honked my horn at him and he replied with a smug look to say "what do you think YOU can do about it?" I live in NV whee the cops, just, DAs, and judges are more corrupt than the criminals

  20. Troy
    November 24, 2014 #

    I know for a fact that state troopers can't do their job. I travel the same road everyday at the same time. I work long hours, when I'm late I speed and get pulled over. When somebody else speeds passing me and a trooper goes by don't do nothing. I see this a lot if traveling other roads. Usually see state trooper 2 or 3 times on the same road back and fourth to work throughout the year. Donut time around the clock.

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