Does the Color of Your Car Make You More Likely to Get a Speeding Ticket?

Robert Dillman was recently featured in a story on Star-Telegram.com authored by Anna Tinsley on August 15, 2018. To see the article in its original format: click here.

You’ve probably heard the story. Don’t buy a red car because that’s the color of vehicle police stop the most for speeding. Know this, red car lovers: It’s a myth — at least in Texas.

“Urban and political legends abound, but officers are highly trained and are extremely predictable,” said Charley Wilkison, executive director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas. “If a vehicle is going over 110 mph, it would be creating a dangerous situation.  “Regardless of the color of the vehicle, it’s the behavior that will be noticed.”

In 2016, black vehicles were pulled over the most, followed by white, gray and silver vehicles, according to the review of tickets given to motorists driving at least 110 mph in Texas. Red vehicles rounded out the top five, data shows.

All those colors also happen to be the top selling automobile colors, just not in the same order.

In North America, white is the most popular color car shoppers buy, at 23 percent; followed by black, 19 percent; gray, 17 percent; silver, 15 percent; and red, 10 percent, according to research conducted by PPG, a global supplier of paint, coatings and more.

“The idea of color increasing the chances of getting pulled over is an urban legend that continues to be perpetuated,” said Robert Dillman, a former deputy sheriff in Texas and driving coach with Dillman Driving School. “If you’ve selected a bright and eye-catching color, enjoy the color. “Drive safely and reasonably and you won’t get singled out.”

Breaking it down

The Star-Telegram reviewed speeding tickets and warnings issued by DPS troopers who generally don’t focus on traffic enforcement in cities such as Fort Worth, Dallas or Houston that have police forces doing the same thing. Troopers focus, for the most part, on rural and unincorporated areas across the state.

Of those, motorists driving black vehicles received the most speeding tickets, 307. Those driving white vehicles received the second most, 218, followed by those in gray vehicles, 173, and silver vehicles, 149, data shows. Motorists in red vehicles received the fifth most, at 122.


A variety of other cars — in colors such as orange, copper, blue, green, maroon, purple and yellow — received tickets and warnings as well. The color of more than 50 vehicles ticketed noted no color at all, data shows.

“I’m not surprised that more base colored cars are ticketed because those colors would be in the majority,” Wilkison said. “Officers are trained to notice the behavior of drivers in traffic, not the color, or type of vehicle. 

“Speeding, violating traffic signals or erratic behavior would be the likely contributing factors to a motorist being stopped.”

Myths

Some believe that the color of a vehicle also impacts insurance rates. That is not true, according to Alyssa Connolly with The Zebra, an insurance website that lets motorists compare car insurance rates online.

According to an Auto Insurance Awareness Survey, 23 percent of people wrongly thought the color of your car affected your insurance rates, said Connolly, director of market insights at The Zebra. 

Dillman suggests motorists stop worrying about the color of their vehicle.

Car color typically only comes up when a student asks the questions; otherwise, it’s irrelevant,” he said. “I spend time explaining the speed limit laws and how they are commonly misunderstood. Few people know that speed limit laws are more focused on driving in a reasonable and prudent manner, given the conditions, and less focused on the limit signs.

“The limit signs are top recommended speed in perfect conditions; however, perfect conditions don’t exist. Conditions to consider with regards to speed include surface conditions, ambient light, and temperature, tire condition, a driver’s physical and mental state, as well as overall experience. Car color is not a considered condition.”

 

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