More than a quarter of deaths on the road involve speeding, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but if the dangers of speeding aren’t enough of a deterrent for you, maybe the tough rules on it are. Some states have stricter laws than others governing speeding and reckless driving—meaning that getting caught going 90 miles per hour can have very different results depending on where you are in the United States. These are the secrets traffic cops won’t tell you about avoiding speeding tickets in the first place.
WalletHub reviewed the driving laws of each state to find out the worst places to break the speed limit, factoring in two main categories: speeding enforcement and reckless driving penalties. Delaware came in with the highest overall score in addition to topping the list at number one for laws involving reckless driving penalties; Virginia, though in a four-way tie for the eighth-highest overall score, was ranked number one for speeding enforcement. After Delaware, the top five in overall score included Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and California. After Virginia for the highest speeding enforcement ranking were Arizona, New Mexico, Illinois, North Carolina, Maryland, and New York, making these the worst places to speed in the United States.
The researchers also found that almost half of states use speed cameras to enforce these laws. On average, reckless drivers are subject to a day in jail for their first offense and three days for their second, with the maximum cost of a reckless driving ticket ranging from $100 to $6,250, and an average cost of $845. Most states have “absolute speed limits,” meaning that going over the speed limit at all is evidence for conviction, while drivers in the remaining 26 percent of states have the chance to argue whether the speed was actually reasonable in court afterward. After one speeding ticket, Alaska is the state where your insurance will go up the most, while Illinois is where you’ll be closest to a suspension of your license on the point system, which is also utilized by most states.
So while you might know the rules of the road in your own state, remember that some laws can vary across state lines. It’s always best to follow the posted speed limits and be prepared to drive defensively—here are the best tips for staying safe in the scariest driving situations. And if you do get pulled over, try out these magic words that just might help you avoid getting a ticket.