Car Crimes


The average American spends 25.4 minutes per day commuting to work.

During that time, have you found yourself driving over the posted speed limit? Ever had someone cut you off and instinctively flipped them “the bird”? And what about texting – are you guilty of having your eyes on the screen instead of the road?

We surveyed more than 2,000 people about their driving habits to see what car crimes are the most common. Read on to learn more about your fellow drivers’ bad habits.

Car Crime Confessional


Overwhelmingly, nearly 70 percent of our respondents acknowledged taking shortcuts through residential streets or parking lots. Few things are more frustrating than bumper-to-bumper traffic or lights that refuse to stay green. Why wait when there’s a giant empty parking lot just off in the distance?

Driving over the posted speed limited was the second-most-common offense. Considering that over 41 million people each year are issued speeding tickets (to the tune of more than $6.2 billion), it’s no surprise that the need for speed made our list.

Aggressive driving was another common crime. Over 50 percent admitted to honking if the light turned green but the car in front didn’t move and giving another driver “the finger.” Finding Zen during your daily commute isn’t always easy, and road rage can happen to even the best of us.

More serious crimes like making an illegal right on red, damaging another person’s car and failing to leave a note, and driving without a license (or with a suspended license) were much less common.

Distracted Driving


Nine Americans are killed every day from motor vehicle accidents that involve distracted driving, such as texting – even though some states have laws against that kind of thing.

The Midwest had the highest percentage of respondents who admitted to texting while driving (17.1 percent). In the South, almost 16 percent of respondents confessed to paying more attention to their text messages than the road, while only 13.7 percent of respondents in the West admitted to the same thing.

Time to Slow Down


Driving through a yellow light may not seem like a serious offense, but it could be a life-threatening decision depending on when you encounter it. Research has shown that the timer on a yellow light could prevent accidents if people took it as a sign to slow down.

When we looked at respondents who ran a yellow light by region, we found that almost 41 percent of survey takers were from the Midwest. While most car accidents occur in urban areas, the most fatal accidents occur on rural roads, like those found in Iowa and Nebraska.

Nearly 40 percent of respondents in the South admitted to rushing through a yellow light, while only 36 percent were guilty of the same thing in the West.  

Men and Women on the Road


When we looked at car crimes by gender, women were more likely to take shortcuts through residential streets or parking lots (72 percent) and speed through a yellow light (39 percent).

On the other hand, men were more likely to give another driver “the finger” (53 percent) and honk if the light changed and the car in front of them didn’t move (52 percent). Some studies suggest that aggressive driving behavior is common in almost 80 percent of drivers and that men are more likely to experience road rage over women. Additionally, men were more likely to refrain from using a turn signal (17 percent) and drive without car insurance (21 percent).

Age Gap in Car Crime


Baby boomers who responded to our survey were most likely to take a shortcut through a residential area or parking lot. While they may not always commute during rush-hour traffic, they apparently have the least amount of patience when it comes to congestion.

Generation Xers were a little more rebellious. They were most likely to drive a car without insurance and have aggressive tendencies, like giving other drivers “the finger” and honking if the light changed and the car in front didn’t move. They also admitted to throwing trash out of the window while driving.

Millennials, however, had the most dangerous driving habits of all. They were most likely to drive without a seat belt and or a valid license. They even acknowledged ignoring a collision (hit and run), texting while driving, and damaging someone’s car and failing to leave a note.

Vehicles on the Scene


Respondents who owned a hatchback or station wagon were most likely to take shortcuts through a residential area or parking lot, drive without car insurance or with a suspended license, and text while driving.

There’s still a reason why sports cars and convertibles are seen as speed demons – survey takers driving these cars were most likely to admit speeding through a yellow light. They were also most likely to throw trash out of the window while driving.

Those who drive trucks, on the other hand, were most likely to drive without wearing a seat belt and ignore a collision (hit and run). While some states do make exceptions about wearing a seat belt in pickup trucks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that wearing a seat belt during a serious accident can reduce injury and death by nearly 50 percent.  

Drivers of compact cars and coupes were most likely to damage someone else’s car and fail to leave a note as well as make illegal right turns on red.

Gas or No Gas


While electric and hybrid drivers may be more conscious of their impact on the environment, they were more likely to drive without a seat belt (16 percent) and make illegal right turns on red (12 percent). While traditional gas vehicles are still widely used, the popularity of electric and hybrid cars continues to grow. We can only hope that their propensity for obeying the rules of the road grows with them.  

Unfortunately, fuel-only drivers had more to fess up to. They were significantly more likely to throw trash out of the window while driving (31 percent), drive without car insurance (20 percent), and take shortcuts through parking lots and residential areas (70 percent).

Both electric and hybrid drivers and fuel-only drivers were equally likely to text while driving and cause damage to someone’s car without leaving a note.

Safety First

While some of these car crimes may seem petty – cutting through a parking lot probably never hurt anyone – some were much riskier. Most of our respondents admitted to simple driving offenses, like honking at the cars in front of them or making obscene gestures, but some (particularly millennials) admitted to much more dangerous crimes, like ignoring a collision (hit and run) or damaging someone else’s car and failing to leave a note.

When buying a new car, you want to make sure you’re making the right choice. AutoNation is your premier resource for finding a new or used vehicle that meets all of your needs and making sure you get the best deal. Visit us online today for a quote on your old set of wheels. You might even consider upgrading to something with crash avoidance features – you can never be too safe.


We surveyed over 2,000 drivers in the United States.


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