This has become a real issue for me these days. I have been rear-ended twice already so I started paying attention more to what the person driving behind me is doing. When I see 'texters', I usually try to change lane but there are times when I simply can't.

How should I signal the person behind me to stop texting while driving?

  • @jamesqf If you have an answer, please post it below. Comments are ill fit to vet the information people post. Thanks. Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 15:29
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    @Robert Cartaino: If I do that, someone is sure to complain that it is not a proper answer. Which in this case it wasn't, since it was a comment on the impossibility of doing what the OP wants - at least by any legal method.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 19:25
  • @jamesqf If you can say there's no way legally with some degree authority, then that is a perfectly legitimate answer. But if you don't have a "proper answer" (your words), then that doesn't make it better as a comment. The problem is comments cannot be down-voted if they are wrong; or edited to correct that. At best, you can hope to trigger an argument or discussion about the correctness (or lack of) of your answer, and that isn't want comments are for either. Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 19:35
  • Short answer. You don't contact the crazy driver behind you. You either let them pass, or drive more carefully. I would change lanes to let them pass.
    – NVZ
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 17:27
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    – Timpanus
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 15:58

8 Answers 8


I don't like to spend too much time looking in my rearview mirror instead of looking ahead, so here's what I do: - If I'm concerned about safety, I pull over at the first, safe opportunity to let the driver around me. I don't have the authority of law enforcement, so I cannot educate anyone. All I can do is create a safe space where/when possible. - If I can't pull over, I put on my flashing emergency lights. This works in all cases. I've never had it fail.

Hand signals can be misunderstood. Same goes for horns. I tap my horn to alert someone if they can go ahead of me (simple communication), if they are getting too close to me and I can't move (informative alert), and (rarely) lay on my horn to communicate a serious danger. That doesn't mean I don't get angry, but drivers have rudimentary tools to communicate and the law dictates how we can respond, so I have to manage my emotions on the road.

I will say, pulling over or choosing to back off and calm down, provides near-immediate relief from stress. I've never regretted making the safer choice. I drive, for the most part, happy and chilled out because of it.

I've lived in 6 states, one territory, done two cross-country trips, and driven a 36-state loop. I've seen all manner of behavior and weather conditions and terrains, and it's best to just be happy, hang back, watch the traffic patterns, help when you can, don't get too riled, and kindly use those emergency flashers to communicate to those behind you to pay attention or watch out. We have to share the road - people have varying degrees of maturity and problem-solving skills. We don't just carry our cargo (kids, groceries, work stuff), we are also carrying the stresses of the day. So it's basically a crapshoot. You just do the best you can. Be safe. Make it home to the family who loves you. We have to look out for each other.


If it's safe to do so, pull over and let them pass. Do not step on the brake; you'll just collect them on the rear bumper (and suing them afterward usually doesn't make things better).

  • Having to pay the increased insurance rates after a rear-end is often the most effective way to teach stubborn people that texting while driving is not a good idea.
    – WooShell
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 11:13
  • Once again, that requires the lesson be applied after it's needed. Ideally, they'd get the message before they do a bunch of property damage and potentially injure (or even kill) someone.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 11:15

You might consider installing a rear-facing "dash-cam" to document the condition of following drivers; that way, next time you get rear-ended (inevitable, if you drive in traffic with texters), you'll have the documentation you need to sue them for enough to make the papers -- which might make a difference to everyone affected by this.

If you're concerned about privacy (you shouldn't be, when you're trying to protect yourself against the negligence of others), you could install an obvious dummy camera -- perhaps buy an old VHS-C camcorder at a thrift store, or similar. One that doesn't actually work, but makes it appear that you're recording people (tailgating, texting behind you, etc.).

  • I'm iffy about recording someone without their consent..
    – Just Do It
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 14:09
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    The highway or city street is a public place with no reasonable expectation of privacy -- especially against recording what's already a violation of the law most places (texting while driving).
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 14:26
  • It's still without the other party's consent.
    – Just Do It
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 14:28
  • @JustDoIt Then how are dash cams legally sold then?
    – eYe
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 14:45
  • I never said they were illegal, I said I'm iffy about recording someone without their consent @eYe I am aware that dash cams are legal. I just don't like the whole approach
    – Just Do It
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 14:46

Beep you horn, to get their attention. Your horn is there to make people aware of your presence and if someone is at risk of running into the back of you because they aren't paying enough attention, it's a perfectly legitimate use of the horn.

  • Would the downvoter be kind enough to explain what they see as the problem with this post?
    – Dave
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 11:48
  • 8
    It wasn't me, but if I had to guess, it's because your horn-honking could distract other drivers/pedestrians/etc and also possibly not even get the attention of the person behind you.
    – goodguy5
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 13:26
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    It's true that the horn is indiscriminate in whose attention it gets, but if it's not for alerting of an imminent collision, what is it for? I would have thought almost all texters would look up from their phone if they hear a horn.
    – Dave
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 13:48
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    I also think that texters would look up, but that requires them perceiving the horn. Never underestimate the stupidity and inattentiveness of anyone. People are literally the worst.
    – goodguy5
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 13:51

Use Physiology Defensively to Make Yourself As Conspicuous As Possible.

If/when you feel you are being followed too closely, increase your visibility by turning on your four-way flasher/hazard lights to get the conscious attention of the other driver before making any changes to your speed or direction.

Flashing lights are one of the first stimuli in our order of perception. Even our peripheral vision has sensitivity to flashing lights.

Good luck


Since it appears to be a common issue in your route you can keep handy a sign with big font letters glued to a stick and just horn and show it from the window.

  • This sounds very much like a recipe to bring on road rage -- and the texting driver already isn't paying attention to other traffic, so won't even benefit from the sign.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 15:36
  • that is why i suggested for him to HORN first
    – arana
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 15:43

Someone mentioned posting a sign. Reminded me of something I tried. I used to commute GA-400 into Atlanta, in the slow lane, going 10 mph over the speed limit, and I would still get tailed by a speeder. I've even had someone honk his horn and shake his fist because I wasn't going 20mph over the speed limit in the fast lane. I always used my commute to learn something about people-dynamics. And I'd brainstorm about the "perfect bumper sticker" that would resolve situations. So I came up with a 70-point (homemade, pre Cafe Press days) bumper sticker that said Why Hurray? I slapped that on with some clear packing tape. It worked beautifully. I couldn't count the number of cars that would come screaming up behind me, zoom in tight, then read the sticker, back way off, sometimes going around me. I don't think it ticked anyone off. I think it just gave them pause to think, and also to know that I was going as fast as I was going and it was futile to push, as I chose not to hurry. I learned a few other fun things, too: Driver's are trained to be defensive. And that's fine. But when we take it too far we miss out on little opportunities to help one another. Not a big deal, just something I noticed. For instance, most drivers wait to put on turn signals to change lanes because they believe that the car in that lane will close the gap. They believe this because it happens. So they wait to signal because they don't want to trigger defensive behavior that will cause them to lose the opportunity to move over. I tested that theory in moderate commuter traffic. Every time I signaled in advance, the car in the lane I wanted sped up and closed the gap. But, and this is what makes it all worthwhile, when I kept the signal on, and didn't hug the dotted line or do anything else aggressive, just cruised a long in my lane, my signal became more like a request. The driver perceived that I was asking with that signal, instead of demanding, and the driver (in all cases) backed off and kindly let me in. So even the people who come off as rude aren't really rude after all. At least that's my takeaway.

  • For both the bumper sticker and the signal technique, I'd give two up votes if I could. Neither one directly addresses the texting tailgater, but they're wonderful ways to go.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 19:32

I've posted this as an answer to a similar question before but it got so many downvotes that I deleted it. Hopefully the OP will find this technique as useful as I have done for the last 30 years. I'm less inclined to delete it again either way.

I have mastered the technique of left-foot braking. Most importantly, I am able to make my brake lights activate with virtually no braking action taking place.

The offending driver behind you will look up from their phone and expect all to be the same as it was when they looked down, however, in the meantime, you have touched the brake pedal with your left foot. They panic and overreact, you drive on, releasing the brake pedal. After this happens a few times they will realise they aren't able to drive behind you whilst texting.

Personally, I've never been concerned about someone rear-ending my car (which has never happened in 30 years I might add), they are implictly in the wrong having done so and it will cost them big money. For this reason, I am happy to use a secondary technique in these situations as well. Having seen my brake lights activated when I am not braking, I then go on to use my handbrake when I AM braking - which slows the car without activating the brakelights at all.

The combination of both techniques is incredibly potent when used on people who are not concentrating, they automatically switch to a different driving style where the road becomes the focus of their attention. I have actually seen this happen by watching them in my rear-view mirror, the eyes spend 90% of the time looking out of the car rather than the 10% they were previously giving.

  • 1
    The handbrake technique you describe could easily be seen as intending to cause a crash -- and transfers fault from the driver behind, who was in the wrong before, to the driver who bypasses his brake lights. In other words, you're taking liability on yourself by doing this -- and if someone is badly injured or killed in the resulting crash, could be culpable (even the point of manslaughter). BTW, your left foot braking could also cause an accident, when the driver behind panic-brakes. Both of these are very irresponsible, at a minimum.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 17:56
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    @ZeissIkon this was the same sort of nonsense that caused me to delete my answer before it's no more justified this time. How are they going to prove that my brake lights didn't operate? Even if they have a dash cam and are able to conclusively prove (by some means I can't imagine) that I "intended" manslaughter, they then have to overturn the well-established principle that you are actually supposed to look where you're going and leave enough braking distance. Good luck with that.
    – Lefty
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 18:10
  • Interesting approach, but terrible driving habits.
    – Just Do It
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 21:22
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    @Lefty Proof or lack thereof doesn't change the fact that you're acting in a manner that will cause, rather than prevent accidents. Your positive action makes you culpable, even if you're never caught.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 11:13
  • Brake-checking is stupid, illegal and dangerous. Don't do this.
    – Hobbes
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 8:33

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