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. And if you do get pulled over by the police, remain calm and remember these 8 useful tips.

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

  1. Sandra Johnson
    November 28, 2014 #

    I have two gripes. First often I have been out someplace public, Movie Theatre, Restaurant, and see a Police Car, then notice the Officer and his family get into that car and leave. Officer in Civilian clothes. I don't know the rules on this, but shouldn't that car be for official use and not private? My second gripe is where I live is in a small town, I live on the corner of a four way stop. Between 7 and 10 times a day I see cars run these stop signs, some slowing down, most speeding through. I have reported this to several officers, went to the police station and complained, My neighbor talked to a state trooper about this. Still nothing has been done. A police car has never been posted around this neighborhood to catch these people. They go by so fast that I cannot get licence plate numbers. How far up the ladder do I need to go to get something done about this. I wait everyday for a horrible wreck to take place right outside my door.

    • headslinger65
      December 3, 2014 #

      Officers are on call in many locales 24/7 and are therefore given the leeway to take and use there official police vehicle for private use. Be glad they do, or your taxes would be much higher to pay for the man power. As for the stop sign. Call the Police Chief or Mayor. I would suggest the latter as your vote counts :)

  2. Pam
    November 30, 2014 #

    I love it when they walk up to the car and ask, you know why I stopped you?

    • Jehsea
      December 3, 2014 #

      There is a very practical reason for the officer asking that question. Do you know exactly why s/he does ask?

      • Jehsea
        December 3, 2014 #

        Because it is the equivalent of a guilty plea in court, should you show up to fight the ticket. If you answered "Yes, officer, I think I was driving a bit over the speed limit," at the scene when asked if you knew why you were stopped, it indicates "guilty knowledge" and allows YOU to make the officer's case for him, all wrapped up nice and neat.

      • tim
        December 10, 2014 #

        I was pulled over once and was asked that question. I replied by saying that I ran a redlight, and told him the intersection. He approaced my car and said have a nice day.

  3. j.s.glenn
    November 30, 2014 #

    Drunken speeders are the worst criminals.

  4. M Noble
    November 30, 2014 #

    In the last several years, after retirement, my wife and have made a number of cross country road trips. The last one, this past summer, totaled 8,600 miles. I generally set my cruise control 5-7 mph above the speed limit and my intent is "drive with the other traffic." not the fastest and not the slowest. I stay in the right lane except to pass slower vehicles. My observations regarding law enforcement on the roads is that the police are not that aggressive and that most drivers do pretty well. There are always idiots, but much fewer than I anticipated. My experience is that troopers pull over the flagrant offenders and let traffic flow. Now this goes for interstates for the most part. BTW, I highly recommend travel in this great country.

  5. Peter Conway
    December 1, 2014 #

    EXPIRED TAG- As a former cop, I knew other officers who loved writing tickets for expired license plates. It is an easy ticket that no one fights in court and counts as an arrest. Yes, cops and their bosses keep score.

  6. V J B
    December 3, 2014 #

    Sandra, while most town police do have some down time to respond to your type of complaint they cannot just sit on your block and wait for the 7-10 people to come speeding passed your house and thru the stop sign. Trying to do something like that isn't a valuable use of time unless there are other things they can do when they are sitting there because they could be out on the street running into 50X as many people in a shorter period of time, it is a numbers game. And I, like you, live on a street with a stop sign that people blow thru or only slightly slow down before speeding off and I am a police officer (not in my town of residence though) and I have asked the Chief to send extra patrols but I am a realist and understand they just don't have the manpower as much as I'd love to have them sit in my driveway and write people all day long. Depending on what state you live in you can sign tickets against drivers failing to stop, you just need to get their plate number. As for civilians in cop cars, some towns allow officers to take cars home and use them for personal use (the IRS requires they be taxed for personal use) because people tend to drive safer when they see squad cars and crime is reduced, it is called the Lexington Plan.

    M Noble, I totally agree with you, there are always a few idiots on the road and they are the ones I look for and reward with as many summonses as I can write. It isn't about writing tickets, there is no such thing as a quota (Illegal in NJ) but hammering someone causing problems for every other driver is a great feeling. I give people up to 9mph over the speed limit, but if they are acting like idiots they get stopped for whatever legal reason I can find.

  7. richard
    December 3, 2014 #

    I don't care who you are it boils down to this. Lives are on the line. Be safe at all cost. A split second for something stupid could change your life or someone else's for ever.so what the car who passes you is speeding. Doesn't mean you have to. That cellphone call can wait. Did you have a cellphone 20 years ago? No! And you done fine without it. Big trucks don't stop on a dime. You pull out in front of them you are asking for IT. Give all trucks plenty of room at intersections and on the road. Same with motorcycles. Use common sense. You know what you are going to do but that other driver doesn't. Worry about you and your actions and be smart and safe. Never had a speeding ticket or accident and plan on staying that way. As for the LEO. MOST IF NOT ALL ARE UNDERPAID HEROES. LET THEM DO THEIR JOB and stop worrying about where they are going. Eyes on the road

    • jim purks
      December 16, 2014 #

      It takes a semi with a 20 ton load 100 yards to stop on a dry roadway.

  8. john
    December 6, 2014 #

    if you are in a wreck Dont leave your car parked in the middle of the road ,especialy on an interstate! i just totaled my truck hitting someone who did. i had that truck 24 years without a scratch

  9. Robert Jones
    December 7, 2014 #

    They need to do something on 95. People drive at crazy speeds early in the morning-sometimes over 80! It puts me and others at risk for our lives.

  10. richard
    December 8, 2014 #

    I have been truck driver for 30+yrs and my experience thru the years has been that you learn how to read the traffic around you and in front of you(on ramps or off ramps). Especially from overpasses. Then think about the time of day it is. From 7am until 10am it is rush hour for people trying to get to work and then from 3pm to 6pm people are in a hurry to either get back home or the closest place to get a beer and they believe they have to be in front of you and watch out for the fool that will pass you on the right shoulder. I have had people pass me on the right shoulder and they are not thinking about the what if someone should come off a side road. You have to constantly pay attention to your surrounds.

  11. Rich D'Auria
    December 11, 2014 #

    Aggressive driving will get you pulled over faster than any of the 4 listed infractions!

  12. cortney
    December 12, 2014 #

    Richard, aggressive driving IS tailgating and lane changing mentioned on that list!

  13. Ray
    December 13, 2014 #

    @Jehsea, your wrong. We ask that question to see if the driver has enough attention span to realize what they did wrong. Speaking with honesty is actually much more likely to get you out of ticket.

  14. Ted
    December 15, 2014 #

    I believe, with possible but rare exceptions, that police officers in general and especially those in traffic control, are simply trying to keep people alive. I am not about to second guess them or nitpick about trivialities. They need our blessing and support but do their job whether or not they get it.

  15. Kay King
    December 15, 2014 #

    Sandra, if you write and mail a letter to the police department, that will get results. Especially if you address it to the police chief. It would not hurt to mail a copy (and make a note on the chief's letter) to the city mayor. Letters have to be formally answered in most departments and are not ignored. Good luck. I have had the same problem in my neighborhood.

  16. Bobby Wiseman
    December 16, 2014 #

    …Lets take the other way: If your stopped, what do you do? (An opinion) I have been stopped! The officer will take a few minutes to exit his cruiser. Seat belt on. Cut your steering wheel to the extreme right. do not park in a parallel form – allow the back portion right rear to uneven with the right front after you have 'cut' your vehicle to the right. Come to a rest. Lock all doors. Only allow your left front window about 5 to 7 inches. Remove the ignition key. Toss it on the upper dash board to the left. Grab hold of the steering wheel and wait…The cruiser will stop at your middle of rear with the cruiser's angle to the left, augmenting the police officer's need to place you on video. As the officer's approachment to your vehicle, and, appeasement or calm, will suggest: 1. you know the angle of the officer's 3/4 face, and not a profile, and 2, to see what the video camera can view inside your vehicle, as the officer is doing. It I'll take 10 minutes – just try it, as a opinion and suggestion…

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