Where Are You Most Likely to Get a Speeding Ticket This Holiday Weekend?

May 2012

Waunakee, WI — Nothing says “welcome to summer” like an undeserved traffic ticket—especially when you’re traveling in another state.

But how do you know which states and cities are most likely to ruin your Memorial Day vacation by issuing you that ticket? States don’t track traffic ticket data for all of their jurisdictions. And most municipalities don’t want to publicize their ticket-happy ways for fear of being labeled speed traps.

The NMA to the Rescue

Luckily, the National Motorists Association (NMA )—a motorists’ rights group that has been helping drivers fight traffic tickets  for 30 years—has updated its traffic ticket rankings to give holiday travelers some insight into which locales are most likely to ticket them.

How We Did It

The rankings below came from analyzing ticket-related search queries such as “speeding ticket” and “traffic tickets” using Google’s Insights for Search—a public tool that shows search trends across the United States. This is the same methodology we used to create the original 2010 rankings .

The Rankings

After crunching the numbers, the NMA found that Nevada is the state most likely to issue you a traffic ticket, followed by Georgia and Alabama. In 2010 Florida took the top spot and Georgia and Nevada tied for second place.

The state where you’re least likely to get ticketed is Wyoming, followed closely by Montana. These two ranked at the bottom in 2010 as well.

The Top 25 states have remained remarkably consistent from two years ago: only Michigan dropped off (down to number 30), to be replaced by Virginia at number 22. This may point to a certain chronic reliance on ticketing to generate revenue for state and local coffers. Notable offenders include Maryland, Louisiana and California—all of which cracked the Top 10 for the first time.

Drivers in the Northeast will be glad to learn that New Jersey and Delaware both saw their rankings plummet: New Jersey down 13 spots to number 23 and Delaware down 13 spots to number 40.

However, if you’re planning to drive through Nebraska, be on the lookout for those blue and red flashers. That’s because Nebraska was the top gainer (or loser?) in 2012, jumping 10 spots to number 33.

New for 2012

This year the NMA expanded its rankings to include the top 10 metro areas for traffic tickets. Drivers will want to be especially vigilant in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami and New York City.

2012 Top 25 State Rankings  (ranked from most likely to ticket drivers to least likely)

Rank State Score
1) Nevada 79
2) Georgia 70
3) Alabama 69
4) Florida 67
5) Maryland 65
6) Louisiana 63
7) Texas 62
8) District of Columbia 61
9 -tie) California 59
9 -tie) North Carolina 59
9 -tie) Missouri 59
12) New York 56
13) Mississippi 55
14) South Carolina 54
15 -tie) Indiana 51
15 -tie) Washington 51
15 -tie) Tennessee 51
18) Illinois 50
19 -tie) Arizona 49
19 -tie) Iowa 49
19 -tie) Oklahoma 49
22) Virginia 48
23) New Jersey 47
24 -tie) Ohio 45
24 -tie) Kansas 45

2012 Top 10 Metro Area Rankings

(ranked from most likely to ticket drivers to least likely)

Rank Metro Score
1) Atlanta 74
2) Los Angeles 72
3) Dallas-Fort Worth 62
4) Miami 59
5) New York 57
6) Chicago 52
7) District of Columbia 50
8) Houston 47
9) Orlando 39
10) San Diego 34

Google Insights for Search indicates the relative popularity (based on a 100 point scale) of a search term in a particular geographical area. The scores were calculated by averaging the relative popularity of numerous, related search terms for the states and cities shown.

Click here  to view the rankings for all 50 states and top 10 cities, the list of search terms (along with their relative popularity) and the calculations used to compile the final scores.

Obviously, these rankings aren’t perfect (search queries can be impacted by a number of different factors), but the NMA has found that the lists correspond well to its day-to-day experiences helping motorists fight traffic tickets.