By: Adam H. Rosenblum Esq. Published: 11/4/19
When looking at 10 years of New York State DMV traffic ticket data—from 2009 to 2018—there are some relatively consistent patterns. One is that men receive the lion’s share of traffic tickets in NY. On average, men are hit with about two-thirds of tickets each year, sometimes more depending on the offense. Some NY counties give a greater-than-average percentage of traffic tickets to women, and 11 gave more tickets to women than to men.
County Percent of Tickets Given to Women
In addition, this average of about two-thirds holds true every year, across nearly all traffic ticket categories. The one exception is texting while driving.
Women and the Texting Spike
The use of a cell phone while driving (VTL 1225-c) was made illegal in NY in 2001. Texting and other electronic device usage while driving (VTL 1225-d) was made illegal in 2009. Only a few hundred tickets were issued that first year, but in 2010 and 2011, the number of drivers being pulled over and cited under VTL 1225-d surged and continued to increase exponentially. In 2017, the number of tickets for texting while driving surpassed those of talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device.
While men still received more texting while driving tickets than women, a huge portion of the initial surge of texting tickets went to women. Between 2009 and 2010, the number of texting tickets to women rose by 2,317%, compared to men, for whom tickets rose 1,473%. In 2011, the number of texting tickets given to female drivers nearly tripled (191%), while the number issued to men increased by 170%. This occurred again in 2013 when police wrote almost double the number of texting tickets to women as 2012, while men saw an 81% increase.
At the peak in 2011, women were getting almost 40% of tickets for texting in New York State.
The data for 2018 shows that texting tickets declined for the first time since the law was enacted, from 112,529 to 111,250. Likewise, it seems that women, whose proportion of texting tickets has been declining for the past few years, have reached about the 30% mark, close to the average seen with other offenses.
Do Women Text More Than Men?
One explanation for why women seem to get a higher percentage of texting tickets than other violations could be explained by the rate at which women text behind the wheel compared to men. One study of self-reported habits of U.S. drivers found that male drivers admitted to texting at a slightly higher rate than female drivers (10% vs 9.6%). This is echoed by data from the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) which shows that about 19% of men and about 17% of women text while driving. In both cases, women use their phones while driving nearly as much as men. However, NHTSA found that men significantly downplayed the dangers of doing so, while women seemed more cognizant. That could mean that women are more selective of when they text and are more cautious when they do, versus men who showed much greater “confidence” in their ability to text while driving safely. In addition, women’s seeming awareness of the dangers of driving while texting, combined with efforts to educate and dissuade drivers from it, may explain why women’s share of texting tickets has declined over the past few years. It’s possible that in the next few years, women will receive a proportion of texting tickets that is more in line with the state average. To read more about traffic tickets and accident trends in New York, check our data analytics page.