A recent study from Insurance.com found that owners of the Subaru WRX were the most likely people in the US to be ticketed for traffic infractions, with 33.6 percent of them receiving a citation in the last three years. Coming in a close second and third were drivers of the Pontiac GTO at 32.7 percent and the Scion FR-S at 32.6 percent.
At first glance, this report looks like just a mildly interesting anecdote to tell your friends during a lull in conversation, but there seems to be a serious problem with the methodology here that might be blowing these numbers way out of proportion.Insurance.com explains that it based the study on 557,238 drivers who requested online insurance quotes from its service from January 1, 2013 to July 2014. To make it onto the list, a vehicle needed over 50 quotes, and in the end that left 526 models.
However, these facts are almost useless because the list isn't based on percentages from the whole pool. The study's ranking comes from owners of specific vehicles, and these numbers aren't mentioned anywhere in the company's press release. All we know about the sample size for each model is that it's higher than 50. Assuming that amount for the WRX means it would only take about 17 people with tickets using the site to put the sporty car in first place.
These unknown model sample sizes might explain some of the extremely odd entries on the list. For example, the long-discontinued Mercury Topaz is in seventh place with 28.8 percent of its drivers receiving tickets. The GTO and Toyota Supra are also in the top ten and out of production. Just a few people searching for these vehicles could be the reason for these strange results.
Obviously automotive studies have their place, but this one just appears to have gotten confused along the way. Scroll down to read the report to see what we mean.
Ticket magnets: The cars with the most violations
September 30, 2014 (Foster City, CA) – One in three drivers of the Subaru WRX has a recent traffic violation, according to a study by Insurance.com, the car insurance comparison-shopping website, putting the turbocharged, all-wheel-drive sport-compact atop its ranking of cars that get the most tickets.
The most-ticketed brand overall was Scion, with 27.5 percent of all owners reporting a traffic violation.
Insurance.com looked at data from 526 models and more than 557,000 recent customers.
"Cars don't get tickets, drivers do – but those drivers like the WRX," said Insurance.com Managing Editor Des Toups. The top-20 list contains other sporty cars, such as the Scion FR-S and Mitsubishi 3000 GT, but also includes the hybrid Toyota Prius C, three sport-utility vehicles and the long-defunct Mercury Topaz.
CARS THAT GET THE MOST TICKETS
Rank/Make and model/% with tickets
1. Subaru WRX – 33.6%
2. Pontiac GTO – 32.7%
3. Scion FR-S – 32.6%
4. Toyota Supra – 30.8%
5. Subaru Tribeca – 29.7%
6. Volkswagen Rabbit – 29.6%
7. Mercury Topaz – 28.8%
8. Scion tC – 28.8%
9. Toyota FJ Cruiser – 28.4%
10. Mazda Mazda2 – 28.1%
11. Hyundai Veloster – 28.1%
12. Volkswagen GTI – 28.1%
13. Suzuki Reno – 28.1%
14. Scion xA – 27.8%
15. Pontiac G8 – 27.7%
16. MINI Cooper S Countryman – 27.5%
17. Mitsubishi 3000 GT – 27.4%
18. Saturn Aura – 27.1%
19. Infiniti QX56/QX80 – 27.1%
20. Toyota Prius C – 27.0%
"It's not about horsepower," Toups said. "The Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Viper and Nissan GT-R rank well below average for tickets even though they can easily double the highest speed limits. But those cars are also costly, so their buyers tend to be older and take fewer risks."
For all models, 19.9 percent of drivers reported having a traffic violation – usually speeding but also including such offenses as failure to yield and drunken driving – in the previous three years.
When setting rates on particular vehicles, insurance companies pay more attention to claims than tickets, Toups said. "If you have an accident, it helps to drive up the rates of everyone who owns that kind of car," he said. "Tickets tend to drive up your rates alone."
Insurance.com analyzed online quote information submitted by 557,238 drivers Jan. 1, 2013, to July 2014; rankings were calculated on models for which more than 50 quotes were sought.
Insurance.com, based in Foster City, Calif., is an online resource where consumers can compare side-by-side, real-time auto insurance quotes from multiple insurance carriers. Since its inception in 2001, Insurance.com has delivered more than 11 million quotes to consumers – who, in less than 10 minutes, fill out one form and save an average of $540 annually – making it one of the largest independent insurance marketplaces in the U.S. Participants include some of the biggest names in auto insurance, including Progressive, Esurance, The Hartford, Travelers and 21st Century. Experts from Insurance.com are available for interviews on all issues pertaining to auto insurance.