Sunday, October 05, 2014

Cop Bait

We’ve all suffered a bout of road rage from time to time. 

Not enough to engage in fisticuffs. Not enough to contemplate our Second Amendment rights.

Just enough to make our blood boil.

Just think about the guy in the Porsche 911 Turbo who thinks he’s on the flag lap at Nürburgring. Or the guy in the Mustang who’s exceeding the speed limit by 45 mph. And the guy in the Corvette who’s tailgating him. Or the kid whose daddy bought him a shiny new BMW and who drives like he didn’t pay for it.

But at least we can take comfort in the knowledge that they all have a glove compartment full of tickets.

However, according to one survey, we would be wrong. The 10 most ticketed cars as ranked by Insurance,Com are the Subaru WRX, the Pontiac GTO, the Scion FR-S, the Toyota Supra , the Subaru Tribeca, the Volkswagen Rabbit, the Mercury Topaz, the Scion tC , the Toyota FJ Cruiser and the Mazda2.

This survey raised a lot of questions.  First and foremost is how the Pontiac GTO and Mercury Topaz made the list.

The GTO was a classic American muscle car that was produced from 1964 to 1974.  It was revived briefly and unsuccessfully by the General Motors subsidiary Holden in Australia from 2004 to 2006.

Most of the classic GTOs still on the road today fall into the collector car category.  A restored one could cost you up to six figures. Weaving in and out of traffic in one of these babies would be like drinking from Baccarat crystal at a biker bar.

The Mercury Topaz was produced by Ford from 1984 to 1994. To call it nondescript would be embellishment. To call it reliable would be an outight lie. If it’s one of the most ticketed cars, in must be for traffic obstruction.

Another explanation is that the majority of these cars are lower-price imports, the kind young people drive. And young people tend to have a heavy foot.  I know, I was young once.

That leaves the Corvettes, the Vipers, the Ferraris, the Jaguars, the Aston Martins, all factory-built rocket sleds on wheels, in the hands of older folks who learned a long time ago not to hurry.

As a friend remarked recently, “Have you notice now that as you get older, you get tailgated a lot?”   As a matter of fact, I do.

A website called Autoblog has other issues.  “ 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.”

OK, so maybe it’s all bunk. But there are some legitimate street rods in the survey.   The Suburu WRX features a 268 horsepower, six speed manual transmission which will get you there in a hurry. The Scion FR-S can hit 136 miles per hour.

On the other hand, the Subura Tribeca is a SUV, which will never be featured in  “Fast and Furious.” And somehow the Prius snuck on to the top 20 most ticketed list. The authorities must have nabbed a bunch of vegan hippies at the bottom of steep grade.

For the record, the least ticketed vehicles include a bunch of pickup trucks and a collection of Buicks from a bygone era when nobody under the age of 70 was allowed to own one.

While we’re talking about automotive legends, I have it on good authority from people all over the country who swear that if you drive a red car, you are traffic cop bait.

True? We turned to Snopes.Com which makes a living debunking urban myths and other assorted misinformation to give us the lowdown.

Their verdict: “Whenever they've been asked about the rumor, police across the U.S. have consistently denied any connection between vehicle color and tickets issued or the allegation that they write up the drivers of red cars more often than they do other motorists.

“Said Sgt. Thornnie Rouse, a trooper with the Maryland State Police for more than 20 years: ‘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.’

“Similarly, Sgt. Thomas Miller of Clearwater, Florida's traffic enforcement unit said, ‘It's not the color of the car that matters, it's how fast it's going.’ Likewise, a California Highway Patrol officer we asked about this rumor asserted it is drivers doing something different or unusual that catch the eyes of highway patrolmen, regardless of the color of their vehicles.”

A cop wouldn’t lie, would he?

Robert Rector is a veteran of 50 years in print journalism. He has worked at the San Francisco Examiner, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Valley News, Los Angeles Times and Pasadena Star-News. He can be reached at Nulede@Aol.Com.

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