Lexus ES Drivers Get The Most Speeding Tickets

But why? Thoughts, musings, and vexations.

Lexus ES tickets

If you had to take a stab at the car whose drivers have the highest percentage with moving violations on their records, you’d probably go with a sports car, right? A Corvette, Porsche 911, something like that? Us, too. But according to Insurance.com’s latest study, the car boasting the most ticketed drivers is the Lexus ES 300.

Let that sink in for a second. The car most likely to be driven in a manner that invites prosecution is a front-wheel-drive Japanese luxo-barge with jellybean styling and a Novocaine suspension. A Toyota Camry in a tux, really.  And yet somehow, 33 percent of ES 300 drivers surveyed count at least one speeding ticket on their record.

A lot of the other cars on the list fit the profile you’d expect. The ES 300 is tied at the top of the list with the Nissan 350Z. The Volkswagen GTI and Subaru WRX STI are tied for fourth, at 30 percent. If anything, the ES seems to have more in common with many of the cars on the least-ticketed list, which is largely composed of premium and luxury cars and trucks: the Acura ILX and Cadillac ATS at 6 percent, the BMW 320i at 10 percent, the Range Rover at 11 percent.

The weirdest juxtaposition, though? Tied for least-ticketed with the Buick Encore, at 3 percent: the Lexus IS 350. The sportier, rear-wheel-drive compact Lexus sedan. The one that costs roughly the same as the ES 300, and is far more entertaining to drive.

Which leads to the question from the start of the article: Why do ES drivers pick up so many tickets?

Theories abound here at The Drive’s office. One editor suggested that behind the wheel of an ES, “fast doesn’t feel like anything, because nothing feels like anything.” Another suggested it was because ES drivers are either frustrated at having to drive around in such boring cars, or “they just don’t know how to drive well.”

My personal guess: The offending cars are being driven by kids. The ES 300 was replaced by the ES 330 in 2003, which means these are far from new cars. And a decade-plus-old Lexus ES is exactly the sort of car most parents would buy for their high schoolers: safe, reliable, and cheap. Kids tend to drive fast, and they’re still learning the rules of the road. Ergo, the ES racks up a disproportionate amount of tickets.

The rest of the list bears out that assumption. Many of the cars on the most-ticketed list are older, cheaper vehicles: the Stratus went out of production in 2006, Chevrolet hasn’t made a Monte Carlo since 2007, and the 350Z turned into the 370Z in 2008. By contrast, many of the least-ticketed cars aren’t just luxury cars, they’re new luxury cars; the ILX and ATS went on sale in 2012, and the 320i and Encore only became available in 2013. Which makes sense: Not only do older buyers tend to buy fancier cars, as they have more disposable income, they’re usually more responsible on the roadway.

Then again, maybe there’s something about the Lexus ES that just happens to attract lead-footed speed monsters. What do you think?