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Driving Infractions: Would You Risk It?

More than 1 out of every 5 Americans will get a speeding ticket this year with the average cost of that ticket coming at at more than $150.

That’s more than 100,000 tickets every day and 41 million over the course of the year. Considering the odds, it really boils down to this: What are people willing to risk being pulled over for?

From age, race and even political affiliation, we asked 2,000 Americans what they’d be prepared to break the laws of the road for. Take a drive with us as we break down who’s OK with speeding, texting while driving and even getting high behind the wheel.

Political Divide Disappears on the Road (Not Bumper Stickers) 

These days, Republicans and Democrats don’t seem to have much in common. While the political divide across the nation may appear stronger than ever, one thing is sure to bring these two squabbling parties together: how much they hate sitting in traffic.

In general, most survey respondents told us they believed in obeying traffic rules no matter the inconvenience or excuse some might have for violating them. Still, some instances caused people to put the pedal to the medal — so to speak.

Making an illegal U-turn was a no-no until it was work we were rushing off to. Nearly a third of Republicans and Democrats said they’d make that turn anyway if they were rushing to a professional obligation, versus roughly a quarter who’d do it for a personal or medical emergency.

Similarly, they were also more willing to make an illegal right-hand turn for their jobs than for an emergency, medical or otherwise. Thankfully, the rat race didn’t compel members of either party to illegally drive in the HOV lane or park in a handicapped-accessible space.

Sentiment Toward Distracted Driving 

Texting is a part of life and, seemingly, a part of life on the road. From dramatic campaigns to giant roadside billboards, texting while driving has turned into a serious issue. Today in the U.S., roughly 1 out of every 4 accidents involves cell phone use behind the wheel.

From sending texts to reading them, it was people between the ages of 25 and 34 who most told us they thought it was A-OK. Nearly half of those who felt comfortable looking at or responding to text messages were millennials. Even those who were younger, between the ages of 18 and 24, were less inclined to agree, and less than 10 percent who said yes were over the age of 54. For every person who thought it was OK to look at a text message while driving, almost the same told us they would respond to them as well. As such, some states have enacted laws against picking up your phone while driving, regardless of intent.

How Profiling Influences Driving 

While opposing political parties didn’t have much variation when it came to driving over the speed limit, people of different races and ethnicities certainly had unique perspectives on when it was acceptable to drive 15 mph over the speed limit.

Urban legend may hold that driving between 5 and 10 mph over the speed limit might not earn you the attention of local law enforcement, 15 miles is a different story. For most people, this speed was considered excessive.

A small number, however, are fine with driving above the limit so long as the roads are clear. Of the section of drivers who were willing to drive over the limit by 15 mph, Hispanics and African-American participants were the least likely to take part. For some, racial profiling during traffic stops could be a consideration. Black drivers are, statistically speaking, more likely to get pulled over than Caucasian or Hispanic individuals. 

Who Has More Excuses for a Lead Foot? Men or Women

Women were significantly more likely than men to think driving 25 mph over the speed limit was never acceptable.

In fact, nearly 10 percent of men surveyed told us that driving 25 mph over the speed limit was acceptable whenever they wanted as long as the roads were clear — and, we assume, the odds of getting caught were reduced. However, less than 4 percent of female drivers said they’d speed that much even if the roads were empty.

Still, regardless of differing opinions on the casual nature of speeding, most men and women said that only in extreme circumstances would they consider it.

Norms for Driving While Stoned 

Marijuana may be legal in certain states across the United States, but it still faces similar rules and regulations as other substances when it comes to driving. 

While every regions said it was never OK to smoke marijuana and drive, some would make an exception in extreme circumstances. Not listed in the above options, a number of respondents wrote in that if someone wasn’t driving far or if they weren’t “very high” it’d would also be acceptable.

Like alcohol, marijuana consumption in excess can impair your ability to drive. However, data connecting marijuana use to an increase in auto accidents or fatalities is unclear. Because marijuana affects cognitive functions, smoking and driving isn’t just a bad idea — it can be illegal in states with marijuana provisions. 

Regardless of legality, a full 10 percent of respondents in the East South Central region of the nation were inclined to think driving under the influence of marijuana was fine whenever they wanted, while in the West, Pacific and Midwest regions, the percentage of people agreeing was 8 percent.

Which Hues Are in a Hurry?

There are a lot of myths surrounding red cars — that they get pulled over more often for tickets, cost more to insure, or even that red cars are more likely to get into an accident. As it turns out, none of these things are true, and even when it comes to driving 15 or 25 mph or more over the speed limit, scarlet speedsters weren’t even the most likely to put the pedal to the metal. 

According to our survey, gray cars may be lacking in vibrant color but not a lust for speed. Drivers of gray cars were the most likely to admit driving 15 or even 25 mph over the speed limit so long as the roads were clear. Just behind them, black cars were the second most likely to feel carefree about speeding.

When it came to just 15 mph over the speed limit, blue cars beat out red cars for fourth place (with white cars finishing No. 3), but they tied for 25 mph over the speed limit, further proving red car owners really aren’t that lead-footed after all.

Protect What Matters Most 

Regardless of your political affiliation, age, gender or even what color car you drive, we all break the law from time to time while driving.

No matter your reasoning or the circumstances behind the moment, insuranceQuotes is there to make sure you’re covered if you find yourself with a citation or in an accident. We help provide quotes from insurance offers in your area, so you’re covered for the best possible price. Visit us online at insuranceQuotes today to make sure you’re no longer overpaying on your auto insurance premiums.


We surveyed 2,000 people to determine the driving risks they would take when they thought no one was looking.

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