The distribution of parking tickets in Greater NYC

Symone Hohensee
4 min readOct 26, 2020

We’ve all seen the snazzy Benz weaving in and out of traffic, cutting people off and making you curse all Benz owners. No cops seems to stop them and they do whatever they want! Ever wonder if they’re somehow given some sort of immunity to the rules of the road the rest of us are subject to?

New York City department of transportation distributes millions of citations every year, for a multitude of reasons, i.e. failure to display meter tickets, hydrant parking, parking in bus lanes, etc. What are the odds that expensive, luxury cars are given a break, whereas the run of the mill Nissans and Toyotas are relentlessly cited? Does the make and/or model of your car effect your likelihood of receiving a ticket?

In short, and rather surprisingly, no. After careful consideration of the number of cars owned in New York, of every make, data shows that a proportionate amount of vehicles cited for a variety of violations, compared to the general amount owned by the population, is relatively similar.

While the top 5 owned vehicles in New York generally have roughly 1/8 to 1/10 of the number of vehicles cited for any given reason, less owned vehicles tend to be cited just as often.

If the make of the vehicle does not correlate with the amount of citations, and those crazy sports cars drivers AREN’T the most likely to be cited, what about vehicles liable to catch the attention of the authorities? In my line of work as a personal-injury paralegal (mainly for Motor Vehicle Accidents), I’ve found more clients say they at least noticed a car of brighter colors before impact than other, more non-descriptive colors such as grey, black, or dark blue. Do these same colors catch the watchful eye of authorities more often?

For arguments, and simplicities sake: let’s look at the colors of vehicles cited for failing to stop at red lights. Of the total amount of cars ticketed for this violation, 20–25% of the citations still go to grey or black colored vehicles, while red, blue, or other colored cars account for roughly 5% and under.

Given that brightly colored vehicles are owned less than the darker colored vehicles, this data makes it appear as though the amount of cited vehicles based off of color is insignificant, and generally holds no correlation. This shows, rather uneventfully, that cars that hold the potential to draw more attention of the authoritative eye, or are stigmatized as being possessed by owners with the need for speed, are statistically found in violation of our traffic laws very similarly, and proportionately, to other cars of a more under-the-radar nature.

For the sake of being a New-Yorker who believes that out-of-state drivers are the absolute worst, let’s take a look at the likelihood of out-of-state drivers to receive a citation. Naturally, vehicles registered within New York account for the most cited vehicles; but what about all of the other state’s vehicles that pass through?

While nearby states account for the most cited out-of-state vehicles, New Jersey accounting for the second highest amount, there’s a surprising amount of vehicles from Florida that are caught violating traffic laws — even slightly more than are from Connecticut.

Multiple dives into various violation types, vehicle makes, body types, colors, etc. show that, generally speaking, there is no obvious correlation between any of these features and the amount of vehicles ticketed. So while we dread seeing the Red Benz coming zooming up behind us, and may subconsciously stereotype the actions of the owner of said vehicle, data shows that they may not be any more of a speed-demon with disregard for our traffic laws than the rest of us.