- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 26, 2006

For the past 15 years or so of working as an automotive journalist, I have had the opportunity to evaluate a different new car each week. That makes about 800 new vehicles I have driven over that time. During the same period, I have received two speeding tickets, one in a bright red Cadillac and the other in a fire-engine red Lincoln. So I came to wonder, is there a correlation between car color and speeding tickets?

Sgt. Thornnie Rouse has been a trooper with the Maryland State Police for more than 20 years and says that he has seen no correlation between car color and citations for speeding violations. “You don’t care about the car’s color, you care about the violation. If a red car and a green car drive past you and the green car is going 30 mph over the speed limit, the driver of the green car is the one who is going to get stopped.”

In his current position in the MSP’s Office of Media Communications and Marketing, Sgt. Rouse says he hears the talk about red cars, sports cars and cars with out-of-state tags getting more speeding tickets, but in his experience as well as with others he knows in traffic enforcement, that’s not the case.

“You just focus on the violation,” he says.

But because there is a place to list a car’s color on a speeding citation, where does this information go? “It goes to the District Court Processing Center in Annapolis where they keep statistics on all traffic citations issued in Maryland,” Sgt. Rouse said.

The citation is not included in the District Court’s database because it is not necessary for the adjudication of the citation. The database is stored on an older computer system and I was told that there simply isn’t enough room to include information on car color.

When I asked the person I was speaking with at the center if she had any information at all about car color and speeding citations, she said, “Personally, I have always been told not to buy a red car because I would get more speeding tickets. I bought a red car anyway and have never received a ticket.”

The bottom line: While there wasn’t a statewide agency with statistics of record on car color and speeding citations that I could locate, the silver lining was that everyone I spoke with in either an official or unofficial capacity seemed to have heard that drivers of red cars get more tickets.

My next step in researching this story was to enter the grey area of the Internet.

Perhaps here I could find some real enlightenment about car colors and speeding citations.

Here are some random posts I found on one Web site devoted to car color that asked the question: Do red cars get more speeding tickets?

Posted by Imogen:

“Other drivers seem to be more aggressive towards me since I’ve had a red car, but I thought it was because it was a Mercedes.

A cop booked my spouse’s red car when we followed a cream car at the same speed, and not the cream car.”

Posted by Theresa:

“Ever since I bought my red Saturn I have gotten a plethora of tickets.

I got pulled over three times out of state on the same trip. Two times I got pulled over in Florida.

In every case I have paid the fine. I am so upset I am ready to paint my car a different color.”

Another Internet insight revealed this: “I do know that small red sports cars driven by men do seem according to a law enforcement friend to get stopped more often due to the cocky attitude of the male driver. … I think it is unfair as I think unwashed ratty cars are a bigger problem since Insurance Agencies say these drivers are less attentive.”

Posted by Ro:

“While I don’t have an answer to the question about red cars getting more speeding tickets, I may be able to point you in the direction of a place to look for related information.

Several years ago when I was contemplating repainting my car red, a friend in the car repair business for many years talked me out of it.

Why?

Red cars, he said, get into more accidents than cars of any other color. He said his experience with several car repair firms bore this out.”

Ah, perhaps here was my golden opportunity. Is there any information about the correlation between car color and accidents?

I soon found out that the MSP and the District Court system also do not keep statistics relating to color and accidents.

Color me blue: it appeared my research efforts had entered a black hole.

Then, like a flash of white out of a dark and stormy night, it hit me.

Surely some agency somewhere within the federal government, currently on terrorism alert yellow, must have spent some green to study speeding citations concerning car color.

Are there any well-read readers out there know what’s right on red?

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