7 Ways Cops Can Tell if You’re Texting While Driving

It’s easy to get a text from a friend or crush and immediately start to respond. However, if you’re driving a car, this can be a deadly idea and breaks one of the key rules of car safety. It’s better to wait until you aren’t currently driving because texting while driving can result in death in the worst-case scenarios. Additionally, even if you don’t get in a car accident, you’ll still be risking a costly ticket by getting pulled over by a police officer for texting while driving.

To be clear, we aren’t discussing ways to text without getting caught. Instead, we’re pointing out how easy it is to be spotted by watchful cops while texting, which could result in high fines or even arrest. With that being said, here are seven methods the police use to catch those who can’t wait to park before sending out that all-important text.

1. Drivers who keep their phones on the steering wheel

A woman texting and browing Twitter on her smartphone while driving a motor vehicle
Texting while driving | Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images

One of the most popular texting methods while driving is holding the phone on the steering wheel. Many justify this method because your eyes are still facing up and focused on the road, except you’re not looking at the road. This is one of the easiest ways for cops to spot people texting while driving, as they can simply look at the driver, spot the phone, and see what they are doing. 

2. Looking at your phone in your lap

Another way drivers try to avoid getting caught is by holding their phones in their laps. However, this is also dangerous, as you’re looking at the road even less, resulting in a car accident. According to Insurance, a big tip-off that you’re texting with the phone in your lap is that you’re looking down, your hands are busy, driving slow, hesitating at lights, and weaving. 

3. The ever-present glow

The glow from your cell phone is another sign that you’re texting. While your phone may light up as you receive a text, it doesn’t stay lit up. If you’re cruising down the highway at night, and there’s a light on that isn’t coming from the overhead lights, it’s not too hard to figure out that someone in the vehicle is on their phone.

4. Traffic and highway cameras

Traffic cameras have been the bane of drivers who like to speed for a while now, but they can also catch people texting while driving. If you get caught on camera, you may get summoned for a court date days or even weeks after the incident or get a heavy fine in the mail.

5. Cops on motorcycles

While driving a car, police tend to have to stick behind other vehicles unless there is an emergency significant enough that they can use the median or other tactics. On a motorcycle, they can drive in between the cars and pull right up to your window. While you can deny that you were texting, it’s harder to do when the cop is staring directly at you while you are doing so.

6. Tall vehicles

Police in SUVs that ride high have a height advantage. They can peer down at you when driving on your left or right, seeing if you’re holding the phone in your lap while texting. This is a quick way to get a ticket.

7. Phone records

This tactic is a bit controversial, as some say it’s an invasion of privacy, and Today reports that police can’t use it until it passes state legislation. It could be coming soon, however.

Police could soon be given a device known as a “textalyzer” about the size of a tablet which allows them to check your phone records. It can download information such as if you’ve been tapping the screen, clicking on something, or sending out a text. This would most likely be used after a car crash to determine if you were distracted while driving. Police in some states can exploit this, but they need a search warrant before they do so. 

However, the easiest way to avoid a ticket or fine is to simply not text while driving. You can always pull over if it’s a genuine emergency and you need to respond. Otherwise, there are tools you can use, such as voice-to-text, which will allow you to keep in touch without taking your eyes off the road.

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