Is Your Car Cop Bait?

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Racial profiling is a law-enforcement no-no, but “automotive profiling” is a going concern in every state across the land.

Drive a bright-colored car, or an obviously sporty/performance car, and you dramatically increase your chances of being issued a piece of payin’ paper  – because your car stands out from the crowd.

It’s not fair – but it is reality. Here’s why: 

Most speed traps involve a stationary patrol car and a radar gun. And radar (unlike laser detection) can’t single out a particular car in a pack of fast-moving vehicles. It’s up to the cop to choose which vehicle he’s going to go after. Nine times out of ten, it isn’t going to be the off-white minivan to your left or the silver pick-up on your right. It’s gonna be you, amigo – if you’re the pilot of a cherry red Mustang GT or glistening black Escalade with chromed to the max 20-inch ree-uhms

Visibility is key.  

And not only are you more likely to be pulled over if you’re driving a high-visibility car, you’re also more likely to feel the full extent of the law as well. The family-looking dude doing 64 in a 55 in his schleprock-looking Camry stands a decent chance of getting  off with just a warning. Or the cop  maybe knocks the ticket down to 60. But the young kid in the winged-up, fart-can equipped EVO doing exactly the same thing can expect to be written up for every single MPH the cop can throw at him – with maybe a seatbelt violation tossed in for good measure.

The cop is going to assume you’re a Regular Violator – and use this opportunity to chew on you a bit. It’s not unlike the difference in treatment you know you’ll get if you apply for a loan dressed like Bob Marley vs. one of the suits from “Mad Men.”    

Run silent, run deep.

Which means: 

* Avoid driving a car with a big wing on the trunk – or an oversized/overload exhaust.

They draw the attention of cops like a Night Train sale at 7-11 draws winos. On cars like the Mustang GT, you can “delete option” the rear spoiler. Or just delete it yourself. Most unbolt in minutes and the truth is they serve no meaningful function on a street car anyhow. It’s just for show – and if you’re smart and want to actually use your machine, showing is the last thing you should want to do.

* Avoid bright colors.

They make you more visible – especially when moving fast relative to traffic. Silvers, greys and dark greens help you fade into the pack. There is a reason why unmarked cop cars are typically painted one of those color. It’s camouflage. If you don’t get noticed – or don’t get noticed first – the chances of getting tagged with a ticket drop significantly.

* Avoid  coupes.

Two-door cars say “I’m a fast driver” to a cop; they also tend to cost more to insure – because insurance companies assume (based on accident statistics) that people who own two-door cars tend to drive faster than people who own four-door cars. Cops just don’t pay as much attention to a bland-colored, nothing-special-looking four door – even if happens to a 150-mph capable four door.

You may feel older driving a car with less obvious attitude – but you’ll be hassled less by the Man. 

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13 COMMENTS

  1. It all boils down to a simple paradigm: Cops are PREDATORS by nature. Their “kill” is either a “bust” for crime(s), real and/or fabricated, or, property confiscation and/or FINES. It’s a lot easier to make a questionable citation stick on some rich jerk that was allegedly “speeding”, or some “punk”, as those types obviously will get little sympathy from the judge should they elect to contest the ticket. Likewise, some staid old fellow, zipping along in his late model, immaculate Lincoln Town Car or “Cowboy Cadillac”, will be let off with a warning, if he’s pulled over at all, simply because the cop knows that a phone call may be forthcoming to the county board of supervisors, and to the sheriff, and to his watch commander, and so on, and he REALLY wants to make Sergeant, right?

    It should be my RIGHT to drive whatever ride I want, painted in whatever colour and scheme I want, as long as it meets the vehicle code and is properly registered and insured. But the more “individualistic” that my ride appears, the more it WILL draw their attention, that’s just human nature. Cops, by nature, are also CONFORMISTS, and tend to intolerance of a “non-conformist”.

  2. Another tactic to use is to pull the fuse/ relay for the DRL. This cuts down your visibility considerably (especially if you have a silver/gray car). On some cars, you may have to bend the pin on the relay so that high-beams aren’t affected.

    • I always turn mine off when driving as I at least still have a switch to do so. No point burning the bulb when the giant nuclear sun works just fine.

      • My feelings exactly. The first DRL’s I recall were on GM light trucks. They’d send you into double dark sunglass mode in the Tx. daylight. The next year, same thing for a while and then I began to notice they weren’t so bright. They finally got the public message on them I guess. It seemed like lots of brand new trucks had one out at that time too. I still commonly see that though only it’s mainly the lights under the headlights that are out. Seems like they’ve gone from separate DRL’s to incorporated into the headlight housing DRL’s and back more than one.

        The type of vehicle indicates if you’re speeding…..to a cop. My light blue Nissan short pickup with big tires surely wouldn’t be doing 90 would it? My Escort would scream, I’d slam on the brakes since radar won’t lock on a very rapidly speed changing vehicle(there was a time when this was so). They’d hit the lights, spin around and just about the time I’d think I was toast, fly by me to pick out something more capable of doing that speed and then slowing. This Does Not Work when you’re the only vehicle there.

  3. From one Eric to another, I say Thank you to a friend. As a College Student at LU, I’ve read this along with some others and I’m glad someone is making notes on those men in blue/black/navy. It’s funny as I’ve been pulled over for “speeding” while I drive a ’94 Camry XLE while the officer drove an unmarked ’08 grey Charger. And if I can tell ya something funny; it’s when police see kids (16-20) behind the wheel – they think that we’re possible speeding/reckless/inexperienced drivers (especially with my baby face). When they see a dark red minivan driven by a mom, full [or not] of kids going 10 over the limit – don’t mind them, as they have a game/practice to get to. I see that it’s either a combo or single out option on who or what’s been driven.

    • Eric, I was once a baby face guy so I drove a bright red hotrod. At times it was just depressing and I knew I was going to get pulled over, not for something I did but how I looked. A forgettable car is as good as you can do. I was tempted to get a fake beard at times but back then you’d need some specific style….and I didn’t know which it might be.

      It wasn’t fun when a cop pulled up next to me and there I am, trying to decide the best way to handle a car that idles fast and furious, sorta jumps around in one place and geared so high I’d have to rev it some to just untrack. It was either look over and give a innocent grin with a finger up(not the middle one) and laugh at your self or ignore them. Ignoring wasn’t really the best option.

      I had two vehicles that I could speed most anywhere in, one a white hardtop 4 door Impala 1967 model and my 84 Nissan pickup with a light blue color. I got caught in that pickup several times but the ratio of how often I was speeding and how often I was pulled over was negligible. They just didn’t notice it. Only out there by myself did I get a ticket and I drove that sumbitch flat on the floor nearly every second of its life.

      My friend hadn’t been stopped for anything in 45 years or more when he got a ticket the other day. He speeds like crazy every morning and I really didn’t think he’d get one in a Camry with such a light blue it’s hard to look at, the color makes you want to turn away. But it was dark so maybe he thought it was white.

      I drive a truck for a living and I’d noticed I never get stopped even in a truck when I just drive as if I”m so relaxed I couldn’t care, knowing, KNOWING I’m not speeding written all over my face. See a cop, don’t dare let off. I had a rear-end changed in my big red pickup and the idiot put the wrong gear ratio in it. We took off, two pit bulls sitting up in the front seat between the wife and I . I had an Escort(mid 80’s) and saw this black and white Mustang before he ever hit the switch. Doing about 60 in a 55 I just left it on cruise. He turns it off and after some time turns it on again. Back off and then turns it on and we meet. I’m cussing him cause the Escort is screaming it’s head off and he keeps turning the radar on and off. Past him and I wonder out loud what his problem was. A few days later I needed 4WD and found out the rear was a higher gear than the front. Then I cussed the guy who’d arranged the deal and the guy who did the switch and myself cause I hadn’t done it myself. Knowing you’re not speeding, even when you are, is a great way to not get stopped. You have to never drop the con.

  4. “Or just delete it yourself. Most unbolt in minutes and the truth is they serve no meaningful function on a street car anyhow. It’s just for show” Really, why bother even buying the car then? If you’re not allowed to look good AND have the performance, you might as well just get some piece of crap and rig it up to the same specs as the vehicle you want to drive. Or better yet, get a Camry and be bored your entire commute. Ah well, I agree though that you’ll get pulled over just for that reason. Even so, I wouldn’t take a spoiler off any modern car, have yet to see one that does justice to at all.

    • There are many subtle performance cars out there; “car people” know what they are but most people don’t – and (more important) they don’t immediately call attention to themselves. There is a middle ground between looking good and having a ride that everyone (cops especially) looks at. A fast car you can use, which doesn’t get you hassled all the time, is a lot more fun (long-term, especially) than one every cop immediately draws a bead on (for example, a winged-up EVO in bright yellow or red), which will get you pulled over every time for doing even 5 over the limit. I say this based on years of experience test driving a different new car every week. In something like that EVO, with its big wing and loud paint and all the rest of it, the cops focus on you – even when you’re in a pack of 15 other cars and you’re all doing about the same speed. It gets old. So does paying $2,000 a year for insurance (or more).

      PS: A current Camry is quicker 0-60 and in the quarter-mile than a stock late-70s Corvette! An Altima V-6 w/six-speed is a great car to haul ass in. It has about as much real-world performance capability as anyone can realistically use in most areas of the country. It’s fine to BS about 140-plus top speeds, but I doubt even 2 percent of the population has ever driven that fast, even once – let alone for more than a few seconds. And the handling capabilities of almost any modern sport sedan/coupe are already well beyond the driving abilities of probably 90 percent of the people on the road – and thus, not real-world useable (again, by most people, on public roads). Most people are in way over their heads in a modern performance car. Even more absurd is the spectacle of all these hausefraus puttering along to the mall in their 300 hp crossovers (and 400 hp SmooVees), or old people in their 340 hp luxury sport sedans, who wouldn’t drive the thing faster than 80 on a dare!

  5. Each week for the past 15 years I have driven around in a different new car. This has helped me to see the difference in noticeability (as well as treatment if I do get stopped) that comes with different types/colors of cars. If you are driving a Corvette or Porsche or anything like that – most especially if it’s bright colored – the cops will focus on you rather than other cars around you. And if you are the only car around, you sill stand out more. And being noticed is the first step in the process of being caught.

    PS: I used to live in Fairfax, so ah feeeel your pain!

  6. I used to drive a Red 1986 Mercury Capri 5.0 and got stopped several times for speeding(so the cop said) or cops would run my tags on their computers while sitting at traffic lights(mostly in Fairfax County, Va.). Cops would follow me for miles just to see if i was going to do anything. I now drive a Dark Green 1998 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP and cops hardly look at it. I’ve been stopped only twice while driving the Grand Prix.

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