Will my red car get more tickets?

You might be surprised at the truth and myth behind this age old theory.

Brian Cooley Editor at Large
Brian Cooley is CNET's Editor at large and has been with the brand since 1995. He currently focuses on electrification of vehicles but also follows the big trends in smart home, digital healthcare, 5G, the future of food, and augmented & virtual realities. Cooley is a sought after presenter by brands and their agencies when they want to understand how consumers react to new technologies. He has been a regular featured speaker at CES, Cannes Lions, Advertising Week and the Publicis HealthFront. He was born and raised in Silicon Valley when Apple's campus was mostly apricots.
Expertise Automotive technology, smart home, digital health. Credentials
  • 5G Technician, ETA International
Brian Cooley
2 min read

It's one of the oldest "truths" in driving: Red cars get more tickets. But is it really true?

Basically, yes. A compilation of stats from various law enforcement bureaus finds red cars get more tickets than any other color... except white. But white cars are much more common than red so, roughly corrected for prevalence, red seems to take the cake as a ticket magnet. The fact that it does is less interesting than why that might be the case; four major factors are likely at work here.

  • Red and the brain: Red is a color associated with energy, excitement and intensity. It's even been shown to raise blood pressure. That's what your red car did to you on the lot and that's what it will do to the observing police officer who may be on a long, quiet shift and suddenly feels amped up because a red car just sped by.

  • Red and the background: If any object is arrestingly different from its background, it draws the eye. Graphic designers know this. That's why the CNET logo is red, the Amazon smile is orange and McDonald's arches are bright yellow: No matter where you put them, those saturated brand devices stand out. A red car is no different.


Grabbing the eye with both hands: Objects in colors that pop against their background get our attention.

  • Red and culture: Red cars borrow from the behavioral effects of red, including how we have tacitly agreed for generations that red cars are fast cars. The fact that every other Ferrari seems to be red hasn't helped. Perhaps we assume someone who chooses a red car is a driving extrovert, expressing themselves via speed, not just color.

  • Red and you: Nobody buys a red car because it was all that was left on the lot. People buy red cars because they are into their car in a sporty way and that may correlate with a certain driving style.

Yellow, lime green and bright orange cars could claim most of the above, but they are very uncommon.

So drive your red car with a bit of circumspection to balance its tendency to get you in trouble!