Blue Drivers Cited More than Red: Jerry Driver Data Reveals People in Democrat, Independent States have Higher Rates of Citations than Drivers in Republican States

Ben Guess
Jan 19, 2022 · 6 min read
Key Insights:
  • Drivers in Democratic and Independent states have higher rates of violations, even when taking gender into account.
  • Democratic state drivers are more likely to have DUIs, improper passing, illegal turn, or suspension violations. Republican state drivers are more likely to have violations for defective equipment or speeding under 15 mph.
  • Urban vs. rural infrastructure, population size, and race are all correlated factors.
Many things divide regions and people in the U.S., but driving records aren’t usually one of them. However, new data from Jerry shows that Democratic and Independent states have much higher averages of driving violations than Republican states—and have different common types of driving violations, too.
In this study, Democratic states are defined as those that voted blue on three or more of the last four presidential elections. Republican states are those that voted red three or more times, and Independent states (of which there are three) were split down the middle.

Differences in violations

Our study found that 10.45% of drivers in Republican states have one or more driving violations. Comparatively, 15.23% of drivers in Democratic states had one or more violations, making their rate of driving violations more than 50% higher than red state drivers. And 16.25% of Independent state drivers had one or more violations on average—an increase of over 60% from Republican states.
These statistics remained static along gender lines, too. 9.27% of women drivers in Republican states had one or more driving violations, while 11.05% of men in the same states had one or more counts of violations. 13.16% of women drivers in Democratic states, on the other hand, had one or more driving violations, compared to 18.52% of men; and 14.50% of women drivers in Independent states had one or more driving violations compared to 17.88% for men in those same states.
The difference in percentage across political lines is significant given that the most common violations vary across different states. For example, in Democratic states, driver suspension counted for nearly 5% of violations, compared to almost no suspension violations in either Independent or Republican states. Meanwhile, violations for speeding under 15 mph are almost twice as common in Republican states than Democratic ones.
Overall, Democratic states have the highest rates of suspension violations, DUIs, improper passings, and illegal turns. Republican states have the highest rates of speeding under 15 mph. Independent states have the highest rates for speeding over 15 mph, suspended license violations, failure to obey traffic signs, and careless driving.
Frequency of Violation in Democratic StatesFrequency of Violation in Republican StatesFrequency of Violation in Independent States
Driver suspension4.2%0.22%
Speeding over 15 mph9.11%5.39%
Speeding under 15 mph42.3%62.81%
DUI5.07%3.73%
Defective equipment3.07%3.05%
Illegal turn2.02%0.9%
Improper passing1.96%1.72%
Suspended license4.89%5%
Failure to obey traffic sign19.55%12.13%
Careless driving4.98%3.75%
So what does this all mean? Obviously, a person’s political affiliation is unlikely to have an impact on their driving—so why is there such a distinct difference in violation frequencies?

Rural vs. urban

One reason could be an urban-rural distinction. Improper passings and illegal turns, which are more common in Democratic states, are violations that are much more noticeable in urban areas, where passing incorrectly or making a wrong turn could have a much bigger impact on other drivers than it would in a rural area. In addition, all three Independent states have at least one large urban area with plenty of surrounding rural space, which might account for their high rates of violations involving speeding over 15 mph.

Population size

Another factor, though, might be the population difference. According to the 2020 U.S. Census, the average Republican state has a population of about 5.1 million, while the average Democratic state has one of about 7.2 million. This could partially account for the higher rates of violations—a state with more drivers on its roads is likely to have more violations, after all.
With Independent states, the data is skewed given that Florida’s population is much larger than the other two Independent states. Only three states were considered Independent in this study: Iowa, Ohio, and Florida, which has the third-largest population in the country after California and Texas. On average, the population of an Independent state is about 12.2 million, which is higher than that of either Iowa or Ohio, the other two Independent states. A 2021 study from Smart Asset also showed that Florida had the fourth-highest rate of driving violations of any state this year, while Ohio and Iowa ranked in the high 30s, making it very likely that Florida’s high rate of violations and large population are inflating the average.

Race

There is also the possibility that a driver’s race affects their frequency of violations. A 2020 study from Stanford’s Open Policing Project found that Black drivers were around 20% more likely to be stopped by a police officer, and that once stopped, Black and Hispanic drivers were 1.5-2 times as likely to be searched, despite having similar or lower rates than White drivers of actually carrying contraband.
According to the World Population Review, the average non-white population of a Democratic state is 27.17%, while the average non-white population of a Republican state is 22.10%—a statistically significant difference of nearly 20%. This indicates that race may be a contributing factor in the frequencies of violations in Republican and Democrat states.
Likely there is no one reason for this disparity in violations—different factors may contribute to it, and other unseen circumstances might play a role as well. However, the difference in violation frequencies and violation types along party lines give a sense of how closely politics can coincide with differences in infrastructure, population size, and even population demographics. Although the difference in rates of violations might be difficult to fully understand, it is clear that political differences in the U.S. correlate to noticeable distinctions in where we live, how many neighbors we have, who those neighbors are, and even how we drive.

Methodology

Jerry analyzed more than 1 million car insurance quotes from July 2020-July 2021. California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin were considered Democratic states. Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming were considered Republican states. Florida, Iowa, and Ohio were considered independent states.

About Jerry

Jerry saves you time and money on your car expenses. Jerry first launched its AI- and machine-learning-based car insurance comparison service in 2019 and today serves more than 1 million customers as a licensed insurance broker in all 50 states. For more information or to save money on car insurance, visit GetJerry.com or download the Jerry app in the App Store or Google Play.

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