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Ticket-magnet cars: Who gets the most traffic citations

Read the Spanish version: Carros con imán para las multas: ¿Quién recibe el mayor número de multas de tráfico?


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traffic ticketIf you’re trying to predict who will receive the most traffic tickets in a given year, take a look at the type of car they drive.

Quality Planning Corp., an auto insurance analytics firm, examined a year's worth of traffic-citation data to rank cars that are most and least likely to be cited for traffic violations.

The manner in which vehicles are driven – and the resulting violations and crashes -- affect the drivers’ car insurance rates. Quality Planning’s study links the appeal of certain vehicles to drivers who tend to take more risks on the road. Generally, the cars with high citation rates are widely perceived as powerful or sporty. The study was based on the number of moving violations per 100,000 miles of driving.

Vehicles with the highest percentage of violations

Make

Model

Body Style

Violations per 100,000 miles driven

Average Age

% Male

Drivers

Mercedes-Benz

SL-class

Convertible

404%

53

41%

Toyota

Camry Solara

Coupe

349%

50

39%

Scion

TC

Coupe

343%

30

39%

Hummer

H2/H3

SUV

292%

46

73%

Scion

XB

Hatchback

270%

37

40%

Mercedes-Benz

CLS-63 AMG

Sedan

264%

46

58%

Acura

Integra

Coupe

185%

33

60%

Pontiac

Grand Prix

Sedan

182%

40

41%

Mercedes-Benz

CLK 63 AMG

Sedan

179%

47

44%

Volkswagen

GTI

Hatchback

178%

40

44%

Raj Bhat, president of Quality Planning, calls the most-ticketed cars "spirited" vehicles. Drivers of the expensive Mercedes-Benz SL-class roadster had four times the average number of violations.

Both younger and older drivers are responsible for ticket problems. Scions, for example, are marketed to youthful drivers, and the study found that they typically are in their 30s. In contrast, the average age of the Mercedes-Benz SL-class driver is 53.

"If you tend to be not as rich, then maybe you tend toward the Scion," Bhat says. "If you look at the Toyota Camry, it looks like a bread and butter car, but there is a sportier version, which is the Solara. If you can afford more, you get into the Mercedes-Benz."

Car insurance rates and personal expression

Marty Brenner, an anger-management counselor based in Beverly Hills, Calif., says cars often are purchased to express aspects of the buyer's personality. If someone wants to feel more powerful and important, they may buy an expensive, high-performance vehicle. "It's about control," he says.

Leon James, a professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii, studies the motivations of drivers. He finds that many people identify strongly with their automobiles. "A lot of people get involved in their cars personally," he says. "They give their car a name. They talk to their car. They encourage their car up a hill."

Auto insurance and aggressive drivers

Aggressive drivers often purchase cars that are known for their high performance, James adds. In contrast, responsible drivers tend to buy what he calls "soft" cars, such as minivans or vehicles that are highly rated for safety features.

Men long have been considered more likely to have serious traffic accidents than women. However, the Quality Planning study found that not all of the cars with highest percentages of traffic violations are driven predominately by males. For the No. 1 ranked Mercedes-Benz SL-class convertible, only 41 percent of the drivers were male. For the second-ranked Toyota Camry Solara coupe, 39 percent of the drivers were male.

Loretta Worters, spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute, says this trend may reflect how women increasingly are taking over roles that traditionally have been held by men. "Women are driving more powerful cars," she notes. "In years past, men have been the most aggressive drivers, but the trend is starting to shift. There are more women on the road than there were years ago, driving in similar patterns and undergoing similar stresses as men."

Cautious drivers

Car insurance companies strive to measure risk when offering car insurance quotes to drivers. On the list of cars with low percentages of traffic violations, "the thing that stuck out was the preponderance of minivans and SUVs," Bhat says. These "cautious" cars tend to be driven by people with children, he notes.

Vehicles with the lowest percentage of violations

Make

Model

Body Style

Violations per 100,000 miles driven

Average Age

% Male

Drivers

Buick

Rainier

SUV

23%

61

71%

Mazda

Tribute

SUV

26%

36

29%

Chevrolet

C/K- 3500/2500

Pickup

26%

40

86%

Kia

Spectra

Sedan

27%

40

44%

Buick

Lacrosse

Sedan

32%

65

50%

Saturn

Aura Hybrid

Sedan

37%

59

14%

Oldsmobile

Silhouette

Minivan

37%

41

50%

Chevrolet

Uplander

Minivan

38%

40

54%

Hyundai

Tucson

SUV

38%

47

40%

Pontiac

Vibe

SUV

39%

41

32%

Bhat says he hopes consumers will use the study results to modify their own driving behavior. While insurers take many things into consideration when setting auto insurance rates, Bhat stresses that it is the driver, not the car, who creates dangerous situations – and receives tickets.

"The most important message is you tend to get vehicles which fit your personality," Bhat says. "If you are buying one of these ‘spirited’ vehicles, be cautious. You can modify your behavior. Being cautious makes a difference."

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