Perhaps you were feeling like Lewis Hamilton, taking on the local highway like it was your own personal F1 circuit. Or perhaps you were just distracted and let the speed creep up, but those flashing lights in your rear-view mirror and subsequent ticket for speeding quickly brought you back to reality. According to the insurance industry, 61% of drivers in the US have had a ticket at some point in their lives. Other research shows that 41 million Americans are ticketed every year for going too fast. That translates into $6 billion in paid fines for everything from going a few miles-per-hour over to taking your Nissan Sentra into the land of the Lamborghini.
Of course, most tickets are handed out to men and, specifically, younger males who lack the experience and, more often than not, common sense when behind the wheel. In a nutshell, men pay higher rates than women because it is proven that men are statistically more likely to take risks and put their own safety and the safety of others in the back seat. While claims are the main thing that affect rates, getting a lot of tickets can’t help either.
When you think of people getting ticketed for speeding, you often think of the expensive performance car caught while bombing down the road. This list looks at the top 10 most ticketed car models in the US. As you will see, the stereotypical cars you associate with speeding are not here. Research shows that those high-performance and exotic cars, such as the Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis and Porsches don’t get pulled over as much as you’d think. Turns out, those really expensive and rare vehicles are generally owned by older and more mature people who prefer to baby their cars – and their lives – rather than push the limits on the roads. So which cars are the most ticketed? According to Insurance.com it’s a mix of types and models, some of which may surprise you.
10 Mazda 2 – 28.1%
It’s fitting that we should start off our list with a car from a manufacturer whose slogan is ‘Zoom Zoom.’ Mazda hadn’t sold a subcompact in North America since it discontinued sales of the 323 in 1994. In 2009, that market was reopened with the Mazda 2. This car is powered by a 100hp 1.5L engine which means it isn’t a racecar. That said, the car is small and light and drives like a go-kart which has got enough of its owners in trouble to break into the top 10 of this list. The Mazda 2 is relatively cheap, most dealerships sold it new for anywhere from $13,000 - $15,000. This made the car a favorite of many first-time drivers with the result that it attracted a lot of tickets for traffic violations.
9 Toyota FJ Cruiser – 28.4%
In the world of retro-inspired car designs, Toyota gave a nod of the cap to its old FJ40 Land Cruiser with the newer FJ Cruiser. Unlike most SUVs driven by suburban-dwellers, the FJ Cruiser actually looks like it is capable of going off road. The interior, exterior, engine and suspension are all taken from other Toyota trucks and SUVs in an effort to make this vehicle practical and capable. Since 2006, over 200,000 of these cars have been sold in the US and sales are dropping off quickly. Although most of the tickets are likely speeding-related, thanks in part to its 4.0L, 237hp engine, the fact the FJ Cruiser stands out more than other SUVs on the road probably helps law enforcement take notice.
8 T7. Scion tC – 28.8%
The Scion tC has sold generally well since its introduction in 2005. The Toyota-manufactured vehicle is believed by many to be a replacement for the now discontinued Celica, although this is unconfirmed. The tC’s sub-$20,000 base price made it attractive to many buyers when it first came out. Now in its second generation of development and design, the tC has had two engine variants – a 2.4L and 2.5L four-cylinder engine producing 161hp and 180hp, respectively. Don’t let this fool you, there is a large after-market parts and tuning community which can greatly increase the handling and power of these otherwise ‘plain’ cars. Affordable and easily modified, the tC is a favorite of the younger drivers who also happen to be the most ticketed. That is why it finds itself on this list.
7 T7. Mercury Topaz – 28.8%
When Ford/Mercury released the Tempo/Topaz in 1984 it was a revolution in car design. What’s strange about this one is that Ford hasn’t built the Topaz since 1994. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen a Topaz on the road in years. Nevertheless, despite being the oldest car on this list, there must be enough Mercury Topaz drivers who break the law on a regular basis to find themselves in the top 10. Powered by a 100hp 2.3L four-cylinder or 140hp 3.0L V6, the Topaz isn’t going to win any races, so we can scratch off street-racing tickets as the cause for it being on this list. Its design is so dated now that it also isn’t going to turn any heads which leads me to believe that most of the tickets this car receives are for things like failing to stop and failing to signal – all committed while the owner tries to get home without being recognized by family, friends and co-workers.
6 Volkswagen Rabbit – 29.6%
The VW Rabbit comes in at #6 on this list of most ticketed cars. Depending on where you live or what year it is, the Rabbit and Golf badge seems interchangeable. In the US it’s Rabbit, while in Canada you can find Rabbits and Golfs. It’s all very confusing and unnecessary. Nevertheless, the VW Rabbit and its drivers are firmly high-up when it comes to attracting police attention on the roads. The Rabbit has been sold since 1974 and its small size and reliability have made it one of the best-selling models of all time. The types of engines and horsepower levels are quite varied over the years and range from sub-100hp to well over 200hp models. The power and fact that it’s a favorite of younger drivers no doubt helps the car get a lot of tickets. However, the fact it is one of the most sold cars means there are a lot on the road and improves the odds for getting noticed by police.
5 Subaru Tribeca – 29.7%
When you think of a Subaru that gets a lot of tickets, you probably don’t think of the now-discontinued Tribeca. This vehicle was Subaru’s attempt at getting in on the crossover market which exploded in the early 2000s. Built between 2005 and 2014, the Tribeca was meant to take on the likes of the Nissan Murano and Acura MDX. It was the only vehicle in its class to offer AWD standard, although this didn’t seem to win over a lot of buyers who chose relatively cheaper models. The 3.0L and 3.6L flat-six cylinder engines give this crossover 250+hp but this does little to make up for the fact it is heavy and ugly. In all likelihood, most Tribeca related tickets were probably from drivers trying to return it to the dealership or used-car lot before closing hours.
4 Toyota Supra – 30.8%
The Toyota Supra traces its lineage all the way back to the Celica in the late 1970s. Out of production since 2002, the Supra most commonly found on the streets in the US today are the MKIII model from the mid-1980s and early 1990s and the MKIV model from the 1990s. The model was Toyota’s top-end performance car and was meant to be a rival to the legendary Nissan Skyline GTR in Japan. Powered by a variety of different engines, the most common is a 3.0L inline six-cylinder which produces around 230hp. A twin-turbocharged version is also popular and produces 320hp. All of the power, styling and hype around the car – thanks in large part to the car appearing in Fast and Furious – have made this a popular choice for younger male drivers. As the insurance industry has proven time and time again; male wanna-be racecar driver plus sports car equals a lot of tickets.
3 Scion FR-S – 32.6%
The Scion FR-S is the result of a venture between Toyota and Subaru to build a small rear-wheel drive performance oriented car using designs and engineering from both companies. The result was not only the FR-S, but also the Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT/FT 86. They are all largely the same car with cosmetic differences and are powered by a 2.0L Subaru boxer engine which produces 200hp. Out of the three, the Scion and its drivers come out on top with the most tickets, bumping it up to #3 on this list. Sure it’s not a super-car but 200hp in a small RWD car is going to inspire many drivers to push the FR-S to see what it can do. Apparently, what it does very well is attract the police.
2 Pontiac GTO – 32.7%
The Pontiac GTO is a legendary vehicle in American muscle car history. The last GTO was built in 1974 but Pontiac opted to re-launch the brand in 2004. The nearly 41,000 fourth-generation GTOs built between 2004 and 2006 were rebadged Holden Monaro – Holden being the Australian subsidiary of GM. Once you know there is a Corvette engine under the hood of this beast, you’ll understand why it ranks so highly on the insurance traffic ticket list. Depending upon the year, you could get either a 5.7L 350hp V8 or a 6.0L 400hp V8. The car could manage 0-60mph in 4.7 seconds which was fast enough to make it the runner-up on this list of most ticketed cars.
1 Subaru Impreza WRX – 33.6%
With over 1 in 3 of its drivers getting a ticket while behind the wheel, the Subaru WRX takes top spot on this list. This car developed its name and reputation in the World Rally Championship, flying across gravel and snow covered roads at breathtakingly fast speeds. Unfortunately, many of the people who get behind the wheel of a WRX seem to think it instantly turns them into some sort of rally professional. It doesn’t. Like the Toyota Supra, the WRX developed a large fan-base thanks to movies and video games. It has excellent handling and a turbocharged engine which, depending on year and tuning level, produces from 220 to around 300 hp. This translates into many younger males buying the car with the expected result as far as traffic violations are concerned. Having been in the top-tier of ticketed cars for the last few years, the WRX looks set to stay as older models become cheaper and younger drivers find them easier to buy.