You may have forgotten about one thing the last time you were pulled over.

If you've been pulled over by an officer, there's a good chance that they have tapped on the back of your car, whether it be on the trunk or the taillight. They're likely doing this as they're walking up to your window to ask for license and registration.

Some of us have more of a lead foot than others so we're familiar with that moment.


There are actually reasons that officers touch the back of your car or tap on it, and all three of them are different.

  1. To get your attention. According to The Law Dictionary, one reason officers do this is to "startle" you, because you aren't expecting the sound of the tap so you're forced to pause for a moment and give it attention. This is especially important if the driver is impaired.
  2. It's evidence they were there. An attorney told Reader's Digest that it also leaves the officer's fingerprints on the car, in case something were to happen to them in the stop, it's clear they were there.
  3. Making sure the trunk is secure. Hopefully there's no one ready to scare the officer in the trunk, but Mechanic Base says that the officer may tap on the trunk to make sure it's latched.

This security measure was in place well before the time of bodycams and dashcams, and although a lot of officers are trained to do it during a traffic stop, it's not the only security they have.

If you do get pulled over, the best thing you can do is just be calm and chill. And don't have someone lurking in the trunk.

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