A speeding ticket is more than just a slap on the wrist. In these days of hair-trigger insurance increases and cash-strapped communities looking for any way to raise revenue, even a modest ticket can put a dent in a lead-footed driver’s budget.
The analysts at Insurify took a look at numbers from its database of car insurance applicants, compared them against population figures, and found the ten cities and towns where people have racked up the most tickets per capita. Interestingly, none of the cities in the "bottom ten" have more than 300,000 residents. That's because larger cities have more traffic signals, more congestion and more people using public transportation or other alternatives to driving.
10 Madison, Wisconsin
The Dairyland State’s capital is home to 258,000 people, not to mention the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin. A relatively high percentage of younger campus drivers may explain why more than 17% of drivers there have at least one speeding ticket. Interestingly, Madison is also home to American Family Insurance, where you’d think workers would do their part to reduce the potential for claims.
The city could have been ranked higher on this list, except the police department reports it issued 40% fewer traffic tickets in 2018 than the previous year. A spokesman told the Wisconsin State Journal that officers were pulled off traffic enforcement and reassigned to work patrol.
9 Nampa, Idaho
It’s estimated that more than 102,000 people live in this town 20 miles from Boise. And according to the statistics provided, more than 17% of drivers have had at least one speeding ticket. By comparison, about 10% of all American drivers say they’ve been given at least one ticket. That’s a lot of potatoes, any way you slice it.
And it's no small potatoes for the city's police department, which on its website touts the work of its "Selective Traffic Enforcement Program" with keeping roads and streets safe.
8 Orem, Utah
Ninety-seven thousand people live in Orem, and apparently a lot of them are late to church, because more than 17 1/2% percent of drivers in this city have been issued speeding tickets. Somewhat surprisingly, no race drivers have claimed to be from Orem, though singer/Mormon icon Marie Osmond and dancer/actress Julianne Hough are.
The ticket-writing is an impressive showing from the 52 officers in Orem's patrol division. And it may be a factor in Orem's strong showing on national "quality of life" surveys: in 2010, Forbes magazine rated the area as the fifth-best place to raise a family.
7 Hinesville, Georgia
Just 33,000 people live in this town along Georgia’s Atlantic coast, and more than 17 1/2% of drivers here have received at least one speeding ticket. It’s possible that people in Hinesville are just in a hurry to get… well, anywhere: Business Insider magazine called it Georgia’s Most Boring City in 2017, noting that it had just 25 full-service restaurants and no museums.
But it's not like the drivers of Hinesville can accuse police of being sneaky: the police department posts regular speed trap warnings on its Facebook page every week. And with 80 sworn officers (about as many as Orem, Utah), the city has plenty of officers to run those traps.
6 Spokane, Washington
This gem of eastern Washington state is a thriving, cosmopolitan city whose many claims to fame include being the home of basketball powerhouse Gonzaga University and the birthplace of “Father’s Day.” So why do 17.6% of drivers in this city of 217,000 have speeding tickets? Could they be channeling the spirit of Spokane native and 1983 Indianapolis 500 winner Tom Sneva?
The police department's website claims Spokane is the "safest city of its size," and maybe the department's traffic enforcement efforts help bolster that reputation. The department's Facebook page is also active with information about speed-enforcement zones around schools.
5 Loveland, Colorado
What’s not to like about a place named “Loveland?” This town of 76,000 souls near Fort Collins is best-known as the home of the Valentine Re-Mailing Program. Since the 1940s, volunteers have stamped Valentine's Day cards with special love-based messages and re-sent them, postmarked "Loveland."
Apparently, love won't wait... because 17.7% of the drivers there have at least one speeding ticket. At least the police tip their hands during the school year by posting times for school-zone speed limits around the city.
4 Canton, Ohio
This city of 71,000 people south of Akron is known primarily for being the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It was dedicated there in honor of the formal incorporation in 1920 of what would become the National Football League, after a meeting inside a Hupmobile showroom. It turns out that many of the city's drivers apparently get behind the wheel thinking they're making a sprint for the end zone.
Nearly 18% of all drivers in Canton have been given at least one speeding ticket. Perhaps they’re all in a hurry to see the William McKinley National Monument, dedicated in 1907 in honor of the nation’s 25th president.
3 Des Moines, Iowa
Iowa’s capital and its largest city is a key stop for Presidential candidates bent on ingratiating themselves to prospective voters in the first-in-the-nation caucuses. It must be almost impossible to get around Des Moines during key election years, as political hopefuls jockey for position in town hall meetings, county fairs, and VFW halls.
Perhaps the pols should bond with the locals over speeding tickets: more than 20% of drivers in this town of 217,000 have at least one. That’s one in five, folks, and it's double the national average.
2 Portsmouth, Virginia
This is the city that puts America’s military in the water, quite literally: the Norfolk Naval Shipyard is actually across the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth. It's a city with a rich military and service tradition, and a big part of the Hampton Roads area along Chesapeake Bay.
But based on their admitted speeding history, the 95,000 people living here should stick to boats: nearly 20 1/2% of drivers have at least one speeding ticket.
1 Beaufort, South Carolina
This antebellum small town (population 13,000) near Hilton Head has won praise nationwide for its vibrant arts community and rich cultural traditions. But perhaps more attention should be paid to the vigilance of the local constabulary: more than 22% of drivers in Beaufort have been given at least one speeding ticket.
And its status as a tourist destination during “high season” probably means lots of travelers have left Beaufort (say “BEW’-fert) with an unexpected souvenir, courtesy of city police.