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In 2016, Insurance.com released a study ranking car models with the highest number of speeding tickets and traffic violations. After looking at over 323,000 cars, it turns out that the Lexus ES 300 and the Nissan 350Z were the highest ticketed cars, with about ⅓ of drivers caught violating traffic or speeding laws.
But does the type of car make a difference in the amount of tickets it received? When we broke up the models into luxury cars, mid-sized, compact, sports cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, and subcompact cars, it revealed some interesting findings on what types of drivers are typically getting the most (and least) tickets.
It's important to note that traffic violations can differ from state to state, but some of the most common ones are: running a red light, driving at night without headlights, illegal turns, illegal parking, or running a stop sign. Speeding laws also fluctuate based on the state and road.
When looking at potential variables influencing the percentages of car owners who have gotten tickets over the years, there are a few major legislation changes that could influence the numbers. The National Highway System Designation Act of 1995 returned speed limit authority back to the states. With this change, many states have adjusted their speed limits. The most recent being Texas with their increase to 85mph on some roads. Certain states, like Virginia and DC, also have laws that ban the use of radar detectors and radar jammers in cars. There have also been recent rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court giving police officers more ability to pull over drivers.
The most ticketed luxury car is the Lexus ES 300, which also happens to be the top ticketed car model overall. Many argue over what makes a car a luxury car, but most agree that price, style, and overall quality matter the most. Surprisingly, the least ticketed luxury car is also a Lexus—the Lexus IS 350. However, the Lexus ES 300 stopped production in 2003, while the Lexus IS 350 has been in production since 2006.
The compact car is classified mostly by size, and as other models get larger, some cars not normally classified as “compact” have slipped into this category. The most ticketed compact car is the Volkswagen’s popular Jetta GL, while the least ticketed is the Honda Civic. The Jetta has been around since 1992. The Honda Civic has been a mainstay in the brand as well, arriving on the scene in 1990 and was the 8th best-selling car (out of all categories combined) in 2015 according to Kelley Blue Book.
The mid-sized car is usually classified by having at least 4 doors and 5 seats. The Dodge Charger SE/SXT is the highest ticketed mid-size car. Ironically, this is also a common police car model. The Charger is a remake from the 60’s and started up again in 2006. The lowest ticketed mid-size is the Volkswagen Passat, which which started production in 1990.
Not even soccer moms can subvert the law! The minivan’s most ticketed model was the Ford Windstar. This recognizable minivan was in production from 1995 - 2003, but can still be found carting families around town. The least ticketed minivan was the Chevrolet Venture — also around in a similar timeframe, from 1997 - 2005.
The most ticketed truck model was the Toyota Tacoma, accounting for about 30% of all truck tickets. The double cab version has been on the market since 2001, while the smaller access cab has been around since 2005. Both are still in production today. The least ticketed was the Chevrolet C2500. This is an older car, around from 1992 - 1998, which may have impacted the number of tickets received at 13.9%. However, the next truck in line in terms of least tickets is the Ford F-350 at 17% — a popular truck model.
Everyone’s favorite category — the sports car. Topping the list is the Volkswagen GTI. Originally the Rabbit GTI, it made the transition around 1990 and is technically sports compact. The least ticketed car was the Alfa Romeo (the study combined 164, 4C, 8C and SPIDER models). However, the Alfa Romeo only has one model that they currently sell in the United States, which is the 4C sports car.
Mark Wahlberg's car of choice in the remake of the Italian Job, the Mini Cooper, tops the list for subcompacts. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi Mirage drivers received the lowest percentage of tickets. The Mini Cooper is relatively new — released in 2002 — compared to the Mitsubishi Mirage, which has been around since 1990.
The Mazda Tribute was the highest ticketed model of SUV, while the Buick Encore was the lowest. The Mazda Tribute was sold from 2001 - 2011, while the Encore was released in 2013 and is still going. The Mazda Tribute was built by Ford and is almost identical to the Ford Escape (to the point where they were both recalled for the same throttle-sticking issue), but only 20% of Escape drivers received tickets, compared to the 30% for the Tribute.
So, do drivers drive differently when driving different cars? Are we more apt to get tickets when driving a luxury car or are they simply more noticeable? Does driving a Dodge Charger make us more reckless than if we were driving a Volkswagen Passat?
We are certainly not saying that by avoiding any of these top-ticketed cars, you will not get a speeding ticket. Nor are we saying that you will definitely get a ticket if you are driving a top-ticketed car.
While not every car is represented in this study and there are certainly external factors that come into play with any data that draws correlation, the results are hard to ignore. Next time you find yourself with a speeding ticket, you have to ask yourself, “was this my fault or my car’s?”
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