Statistics On Traffic Violations

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) first conducted a study on the driving age public's attitudes and behaviors about speeding and unsafe (or aggressive) driving in 1997. NHTSA conducted a second survey on this topic in 2002 to collect updated data on the nature and scope of the speeding and aggressive driving problems. Interviews were conducted with a nationally representative sample of drivers age 16 and over, to determine how the public perceives the seriousness of speeding and aggressive driving, and what countermeasures the public will accept to control these problems.


Speeding is a pervasive behavior with about three-quarters of drivers in the survey reporting they drove over the speed limit on all types of roads within the past month.

A majority of drivers of all ages admit to speeding.

At least eight of ten younger drivers report speeding at least monthly on each road type

Six in ten drivers age 65 or older report speeding on all road types

Males are 50 percent more likely than females to drive over the posted speed limit.

Perceived Likelihood of Crash at Different Speeds

The majority of drivers (58%) feel that someone driving at least 10 MPH over the posted speed limit would be at least somewhat more likely than someone traveling at the limit to have a crash. Fewer drivers perceive that a crash is likely for drivers exceeding the limit by less than 10 MPH.

Perceived Threat of Others Speeding

While many drivers believe that the speed limits on interstates should generally be higher, 68 percent of survey respondents feel that other drivers' speeding is a major threat to their own personal safety. Perceptions of this threat increase significantly with age, from just 48 percent of drivers age 16-20 believing speeding by others is a threat, to 86 percent of those age 65 or older. More than three-quarters of drivers feel that it is at least somewhat important that something be done to reduce speeding on all road types. This finding suggests a strong "it's not me, it's the other guy who is a problem" mentality among many drivers.

Unsafe and Aggressive Driving

While speeding is the most common unsafe behavior on the road, other unsafe behaviors account for a sizable proportion of motor vehicle crashes. Drivers reported doing other unsafe and aggressive driving behaviors "at least sometimes."

Entering an intersection just as the light turned from yellow to red (40 percent)

Rolling stops at stop signs (30 percent)

Making angry, insulting, or obscene gestures towards another driver (12 percent)

Cutting in front of other drivers (10 percent)

Drivers under age 21 are much more likely than older drivers to engage in these behaviors, with 29 percent saying they cut in front of other drivers, 24 percent making obscene or angry gestures towards other motorists, and 17 percent using the shoulder to pass in heavy traffic.

Perceived Change in Aggressive Driving in Others

Drivers believe that others are driving as or more aggressively now as they were one year ago. Specifically, compared to a year ago, 40 percent of drivers feel other drivers are driving more aggressively; 52 percent of drivers feel other drivers are driving as aggressively; and only 6 percent feel other drivers are driving less aggressively.

Perceived Threat of Different Driving Behaviors

The survey asked drivers how much of a threat three different unsafe driving behaviors are to their personal safety. Virtually all (97 percent) of drivers feel that when other drivers run red lights it is a major threat to themselves and their family; 83 percent feel that traffic weaving is a major threat; and 58 percent see rolling stops at stop signs as a major threat.

Police Enforcement

While speeding is reported as the most common unsafe driving behavior drivers see on roads, drivers believe that enforcement is too lax with the other unsafe driving behaviors. For example, 60 percent of drivers believe there is too little enforcement for tailgating, and 57 percent believe there is lax enforcement for weaving. On the other hand, only 41 percent report too little enforcement for speeding. Younger drivers are most likely to believe there is too much enforcement of most of the unsafe driving behaviors, especially speeding. Twenty-two percent of those under age 30 reported that they believe there is too much police enforcement of speeding as compared to 8 percent of those age 30 or older.

Appropriateness of Photo Enforcement

At least two-thirds of drivers feel that photo enforcement would be a good idea in all of the traffic violation scenarios identified. The greatest support for automated photo enforcement comes for the following violations:

Drivers passing a school bus (82 percent)

Speeding in a school zone (78 percent)

Trying to beat a train at a railroad crossing (78 percent)

Running red lights (75 percent).

Last year 42,116 men, women and children were killed on American roads - more than 115 people a day, every day, or 1 person every 12 minutes.

Most people who die in car crashes were not wearing seat belts. In 2001 60% of the vehicle occupants who were killed were unrestrained.

Seat belts significantly reduce fatalities. Seat belts reduce fatalities by up to 45% in passenger cars and 60% in light trucks.

Buckling up on short trips is critical. 52% of reported crashes occur within five miles of home and 77% more occur within 15 miles of home. Crashes are more than twice as likely to take place one mile from home as 20 miles from home, and only 1% of reported crashes take place 50 miles from home.

Seat belts prevent you from being thrown from a vehicle. If ejected from a vehicle during a crash you are 800 times more likely to be killed than if you were not ejected.

Seat belt use increased from 59% to 75% between 1991 and 2002.

Every increase in seat belt use translates to lives saved and injuries prevented. The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration estimates that every one-percentage point increase represents 2.8 million more Americans buckling up - 265 additional lives saved and 4,600 serious injuries prevented.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for all Americans ages 15 to 25.

The vast majority of teens who are killed or injured did not wear a seat belt. In 2000, 675 of 16 to 18 year olds killed or seriously injured were unrestrained.

Semi-trucks & Commercial Trucks

Traffic Enforcements By Violation Type All Domiciles U.S. Mexico Canada
Traffic Enforcement Violation Summary for U.S. DOT Active Motor Carriers
transparent imageSpecified Violations 331,130 313,668 631 16,831
transparent imageSerious Traffic Violations 209,876 199,714 236 9,926
transparent imageMoving Violations 204,915 195,069 184 9,662
transparent imageDrug and Alcohol 4,961 4,645 52 264
transparent imageOther Traffic Violations 121,254 113,954 395 6,905
transparent imageUnspecified Traffic Violations 368,139 353,309 3,617 11,213
transparent imageTotal 699,269 666,977 4,248 28,044

Data Source : FMCSA Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) March 24, 2003 snapshot. In addition, the following MCMIS census file snapshots were used for cross-referencing carrier information: March 25, 2000; March 24, 2001; March 23, 2002; March 24, 2003.

Content Related to Topic

  • How Safe Is America's Roadway System?
    The U.S. roadway system's positive trends have plateaued at a fatality rate that is the lowest in history at 1.5 deaths per 100 million miles of travel (down from 5.5 fat

  • Red Light Running
    The Federal Highway Administration started the Stop Red Light Running Campaign (phase 1) as a comprehensive safety outreach program that combined public education with ag

To find out more about your legal rights, please fill out our case evaluation form. A traffic ticket lawyer in your area will evaluate your case free of charge.

Talk to a Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
Get Professional Help

Talk to a Traffic Ticket attorney.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you