How can the police tell when you don’t have a seatbelt on?

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As a younger kid, I always wondered how the police noticed when you didn’t have a seatbelt on. There doesn’t seem to be any exterior signal that screams “HEY THIS PERSON DOESN’T HAVE A SEATBELT ON!!!”, And the windows seem too dim to notice at a glance.

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Well, besides from just looking (super-obvious when you look for it), police tend to pick up on these details when they pull over people for whatever other idiocy they commit behind the wheel.

The first way would be to walk up and look at you when you are pulled over. If you are not sitting properly in your seat, like you are standing through the sunroof while going down the street, it’s obvious.

It generally isn’t something they pull you over for on its own, but a secondary charge when you get pulled over for speeding or running a stop sign or something like that. Sure, most people are smart enough to put the seatbelt on before they pull over (or at least claim they took it off to get their registration out of the glove box), but you’d be amazed how easy it is to see someone reach up and pull their seatbelt on a dashcam.

If you look through the car from the front window to the rear or side window you get a pretty bright backlit view which helps you see the shadow of the seat belt going from the B-pillar to the drivers shoulder. If you practice looking for this it becomes very easy to spot when cruising around. For dedicated seat belt controls the police tends to set up a telephoto camera looking down the road so they can take long stable shots of the cars coming towards them. This gives them quite a lot of time to study you looking for the seat belt, and they can take photos to show in court if needed.

Neither of these techniques, and many others the police use, are fool proof. But they are quite effective. Enough so that you are taking a risk getting caught every time you drive without a seat belt. The risk of getting is reason enough to put on a seat belt when driving.

During the daytime, as long as you don’t have tinted windows, a cop can see pretty easily through your windows if he’s wearing polarized sunglasses – polarized lenses really cut through reflections and glare.

Also, he’ll have an easier time noticing the lack of a seatbelt the lighter your shirt/jacket is, since more often than not, seatbelts are dark grey in color.