Do red cars get pulled over more often for speeding?

There are certain behaviors that will make you more likely to get pulled over by the police, regardless of what color car you happen to drive.
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Everyone says that red cars actually do get nailed for speeding more often that their more muted counterparts. Everyone, that is, except the people who actually know about these things. Yes, it seems that the old line about red cars getting pulled over is just an urban legend that's gone on for generations. It's used as a cautionary tale to advise young and inexperienced drivers against buying a red car. It's used to warn fast drivers against selecting that eye-catching color. Many of us have probably known someone who drove a red car, and maybe that person even used it as a convenient excuse for frequent run-ins with the police. But while it's true that police across the United States give out 34 million speeding tickets a year, to the tune of $6.2 billion in fines, there's no hard data (besides anecdotal evidence) to support the idea that most speeding tickets are issued to drivers of red cars.

Want to know what the most-ticketed car color is, according to a 2014 study that compiled data from a few different sources? White. White cars accounted for 19 percent of the 924 total traffic citations (all tickets, not just speeding) used in the study [source: George]. It's true, though, that red came in second, with 16 percent of citations. But that's enough of a difference to poke a hole in the theory that red cars are targeted for speeding without reprieve.


Perhaps even more significant, though, is the revelation that certain makes and models of cars get pulled over more than others. The most ticketed car in the past few years is the Subaru WRX (which, incidentally, is most commonly seen coated in a bright-blue hue) [source: Sederholm]. With a couple of exceptions, most of the cars that appear on these lists are fast, or alternately, cars that make people think they're fast and inspire them to drive accordingly. It's unclear whether it's because fast drivers tend to buy those specific vehicles or because police tend to pick these cars out of a crowd. But again, color isn't a relevant factor. That's why auto insurance companies ask about your car's make, model, body type, and engine specs, but they don't ask about the color. (Think about it: If auto insurance companies had any statistical justification whatsoever for asking about your car's color, and charging more for it, they would.)

Here's something else to consider. There are certain behaviors that will make you more likely to get pulled over, regardless of what color car you happen to drive. A few pieces of advice based on what we know: Don't talk on the phone, don't text and don't turn around to talk to your backseat passengers. Always signal your lane changes and make sure your car appears to be in good working order (no cracks in the windshield, expired license plate tags or burned-out lights). Any of these offenses is like waving a giant red flag — even if your car happens to be a bland and soothing shade of primer.


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More Great Links

  • George, Patrick. "The Most Ticketed Cars In America Will Genuinely Surprise You." Jalopnik. July 2, 2014. (March 15, 2015)
  • Glenn, Alex. "Police Reveal 4 Common Ways to Get Pulled Over." Esurance. March 13, 2013. (March 15, 2015)
  • Sederholm, Jillian. "These Cars Get the Most Traffic Tickets." NBC News. Sept. 30, 2014. (March 15, 2015)