Car Culture: Traffic ticket magnets, other miscellany

Melissa Preddy
Car Culture

There’s a little basket on my desk that tends to fill up with autos-related tidbits, factoids and resources that don’t quite rise to the level of their own column topic but are fun and useful just the same. Here’s a sampling of what’s on those sticky notes, index cards and backs of envelopes:

Speed traps: The comparison-shopping website is out with a ranking of which auto makes and models attract the most traffic tickets. The study is based on consumer data gathered in generating more than 300,000 insurance quotes in early 2014.

The most frequently ticketed drivers were behind the wheel of the Lexus ES 300; 33.4 percent of such owners reported being ticketed, compared to an all-car average of 21.7 percent. The Nissan 350Z and the Dodge Charger were next in the ranking. The Buick Encore appears to attract the least law-enforcement action, with only 3.2 percent of owners reporting tickets.

As points out, cars don’t get tickets — people do. But apparently lead-foot drivers do tend to gravitate to certain rides. Want to see where yours falls in the ranking? Visit the searchable database at — it’s fun to plug in your own make and model. My little compact falls about dead center at No. 150, and just over the average in terms of its Ticket Magnet track record.

Thanks for the memories ... not: You know the jolt you get when, after a routine commute, you realize you don’t recall much of the journey? You’re not alone, and if you’re a female driver you’re far more likely to experience that disoriented sense of traveling on autopilot while the mind busily churns with to-do lists, or just chills to music or talk radio.

According to a recent study by British AA, the automobile association across the pond, women say they blank out behind the wheel more often than men do; about 17 percent of female drivers report such memory gaps vs. 13 percent of males. The issue is most prevalent in the 25-34 age range; 24 percent of those respondents said they blank out “very or quite often.”

The British AA’s experts said drivers are prone to losing concentration on familiar routes and close to home, and warns that autopilot driving is a big contributor to accidents.

Barely driven Corvette: For hard-core classic car mavens, it could feel like stumbling upon a winning lottery ticket: Up for local sale this spring will be a 1966 all-original Chevy Corvette coupe with only about 51,000 actual miles on the odometer.

It’ll be on the block as part of the semi-annual collectibles sale produced by Woodhaven-based Showtime Auctions, which specializes in antiques and niche rarities, like advertising ephemera and of course automotive-related memorabilia and paraphernalia. Their spring auction featuring the Corvette (Lot 1104) will take place April 2 at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor. For information, visit

Commuting conundrum: Even the most ardent auto aficionado can dread slogging out before dawn on a humdrum trip to the workplace. But if you’ve been using “... and it’s great for the environment, too!” to persuade your boss to let you work from home, you might be surprised.

According to some recent studies, keeping the lights on and the heat turned up while you pound the keyboard in your yoga pants, instead of going to a communal workspace, actually isn’t all that great for Planet Earth when multiplied by a few tens of millions of households.

One report from the Britain-based Carbon Trust says heating the house for just an hour and 15 minutes a day can cancel out the emissions savings of skipping an average commute. However, the more your commute exceeds eight miles by car, the greater the environmental argument in favor of working from home — especially if the house is occupied during the day, anyway.

Melissa Preddy is a Michigan-based freelance writer. Reach her via