License and Registration, Please: The Odds of Getting a Speeding Ticket
Nothing ruins a trip like the sight of a police car about to pull you over. One minute you’re blissfully cruising along, and the next you’re miserably watching other cars go by while you wait to find out if the officer will write you a speeding ticket—and how much it will cost you.
And tickets these days are often budget busters. Fines for speeding, the most common offense, can range anywhere from less than $100 up to $1000 for the first offense. In Massachusetts, for example, the base fine for speeding is $100, but that only covers the first 10 mph over the speed limit. After that it’s $10 for each additional mph, so going 85 in a 55 mph zone will cost you an additional $200. And, as in other states, higher insurance fees for the next few years can put the ultimate cost of a single speeding violation at more than $500.
Although most people get pulled over at some point in their driving lives, the chances of getting through any given year without getting stopped are pretty good. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the odds a driver will be stopped by the police in a year are 1 in 11.48. Men are more likely than women to get pulled over, with 1 in 9.43 male drivers getting stopped annually, compared to 1 in 14.66 female drivers.
In the majority of these instances, speeding is the reason for the traffic stop. The odds a driver stopped by the police is stopped for speeding are 1 in 1.84 (54%).
Once a cop pulls you over for speeding, you don’t stand a very good chance of talking your way out of a ticket. The odds a driver stopped by the police for speeding will be ticketed are 1 in 1.37 (73%). Men fare slightly worse than women, with 1 in 1.34 (75%) male drivers getting tickets compared to 1 in 1.44 (69%) female drivers. Regrettably, no data is available on what the magic words are for convincing an officer to let you go with a warning.
Certain car models tend to get pulled over and ticketed more or less often than others, according to the Quality Planning Corporation, a consulting firm that tracks insurance issues. The Hummer H2/H3, Scion tC, the Mercedes Benz CLK63, the Toyota Solara, and the Subaru Outback station wagon are among the most ticketed models, while the Jaguar XJ, the Chevrolet Suburban, the Buick Park Avenue, the Mazda 6, and the Oldsmobile Silhouette are among the least ticketed. Experts say a number of factors affect these lists, including the car’s capabilities, the type of person who drives the car (e.g., age and lifestyle), and law enforcement officers’ perceptions of the vehicles.