Is the type of car you drive more likely, or less likely, to get a speeding ticket? Let's analyze some data to find out!

Do red cars attract more attention from the police, and get more tickets? How about cars with a 'racing stripe'? Or cars with a big chromed motor, a blower, and side pipes (such as the one in the picture below that I took at a local car show)?  Zoom, zoom!

Of course, cars don't get speeding tickets - people do. But perhaps people who drive fast (and get lots of tickets) tend to drive certain types of cars? A recent CNN article used data for people who had gotten a quote from insurance.com, and listed the Top 20 cars where the highest percentage of people wanting to insure that car had a recent ticket.

I would imagine the insurance quote data is a little biased. For example, the people looking for an insurance quote might be more likely to have tickets than the general population (that might be why they're looking). But nonetheless, the data is 'interesting' so let's go with it!

The CNN article showed each of the top 20 cars on a separate page, which made it time-consuming to see all 20, and also made it difficult to compare them. Therefore I created a simple SAS bar chart to overcome those problems:

Seeing the 20 cars with the most tickets was interesting, but it made me curious about the 20 cars with the fewest tickets. Therefore I dug up that data, and created a similar bar chart for the fewest tickets. Note that I scaled it the same as the previous chart, so it would be easy to visually compare the two charts:

Of course, while I was scraping around to find the data for the above charts, I also got the data for all the cars in between (over 500 different models in all). And with all that data, I had to try to visualize it all at once! I created a scatter plot, with the data grouped by make along the vertical axis (similar to the bar chart layout), and sorted the makes by their average number of tickets.

You can click any of the graphs above to see the interactive version, with html hover-text, and drilldowns that do a Google search for images of that vehicle!

Did any of the cars in the best and worst 20 surprise you? Do you own one of those cars, and can you confirm whether or not you have speeding ticket(s)? What other factors do you think influence your probability of getting a speeding ticket? Do you have any 'tricks' for not getting speeding tickets, that you'd like to share?

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The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over a quarter century, and his specialty is customizing graphs and maps - adding those little extra touches that help them answer your questions at a glance. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University.

1. It's amazing to me that, the WRX aside, Subaru drivers would get such a high percentage of tickets. I've always considered my Subaru Forester to be rather lumbering - it does not have the lines of a racing car, that's for sure. Maybe Subaru should change its catch phrase: "Speed - it's what makes Subaru a Subaru!"

• Robert Allison on

I pondered that a bit myself also. My theory is that more Subaru owners are "northerners" (even if they're currently living in the south), and northerners tend to speed more. Of course, I don't have any data to support that theory! :)

• My Subaru clearly resented being referred to as "lumbering" because as of this weekend it is failing to move, let alone lumber. No speeding tickets for me anytime soon!

2. For some of these I am wondering if the rating is due to the popularity of the car, i.e. the number of cars on the road. It would be interesting to see how the ratio of # tickets to # registered would look.

3. I'm surprised anyone could get a Prius to go fast enough to get a speeding ticket !!!!! :-)

• Robert Allison on

I've got a Prius, and I can attest that they will indeed go over the speed limit. One speed advantage they have over other cars is that they don't have to slow down for so many gas stations! ;)