Your Car Color Might Make Police Likelier to Ticket You

You might drive a shiny, bright car that turns heads. But you probably hope the police aren’t the ones noticing. In fact, there’s some truth to the stories that certain car colors get drivers pulled over more frequently than others. Of course, practicing car safety and following traffic laws are the best ways to avoid getting a ticket. But it’s still interesting to know which car colors draw cops’ attention most.

The main reasons police stop drivers

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Police officers look for aggressive drivers and those breaking the rules of the road. An Edmunds survey of police departments and traffic agencies found that officers are looking for people who are speeding, distracted or using a cell phone, or driving in a hazardous way (illegal U-turns or missing stop signs or yield signs). They also look for violations like overly dark window tinting, expired tags, tailgating, and improper lane changes.

Police stop drivers with these behaviors or violations, but they pull over certain people, car colors, and models more frequently. Men get stopped about 30 percent more than women. And drivers who are 20 years old get the most tickets, the National Motorists Association reports. Certain car colors and models also end up on the side of the road more often.

Car colors that get their drivers pulled over most

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A study by CJ Pony Parts, including informal research from 1990 and reputable sources such as Forbes and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, shows that white cars get pulled over and ticketed the most frequently. They’re followed by red cars, then gray cars, and then silver cars. However, when adjusting for prevalence, gray and then red cars top the list as likeliest to get ticketed. Only gray cars are overly represented among tickets given out, while white cars are actually underrepresented. 

American Auto Insurance points out white cars are probably pulled over most frequently because of their prevalence. White has been the most popular car color for nearly a decade. And according to LiveAbout, white, black, gray, and silver have been the most popular car colors for 20 years. About eight in 10 cars are one of these four colors.

Models that get pulled over more frequently than others

The model of your car is also a factor and probably a bigger impact than its color. One study from a couple of years ago shows a few vehicles most frequently pulled over. They include the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, Toyota Camry Solara, and Scion tC. They’re 300 to 400 percent likelier to get a ticket than other models. They’re also all sporty cars geared toward younger drivers.

The models least likely to get ticketed are the Jaguar XJ, Chevrolet Suburban, and Buick Park Avenue. They’re about 90 percent less likely to get ticketed. These are sedans and SUVs targeted toward families. Though several of these vehicles are no longer in production, it’s clear there’s a lot of variation among vehicles and the tickets they receive.

A more recent study from Insurify shows the most tickets go to the Subaru WRX, Scion FR-S, and Volkswagen GTI. The least ticketed models are the Buick Encore, Lexus IS 350, and Acura ILX. This study, again, shows the difference between drivers of sporty cars and family-friendly vehicles.

Police say they don’t purposely consider factors other than the law when stopping cars. Sgt. Thomas Miller of Clearwater, Florida’s traffic enforcement unit told Snopes: “It’s not the color of the car that matters; it’s how fast it’s going.” Of course, it’s difficult to determine causality. It could be that these colors and models are more noticeable to police. Or it could be that people with certain driving behaviors prefer these vehicles. It’s something to be aware of when you’re choosing a vehicle. But more important is to ensure you’re driving safely.