We all know the gut-churning mix of frustration and confusion that washes over us whenever we see those blue and red lights flashing in our rear-view mirror. Assuming you're not running from warrants, some version of this song and dance probably follows: A cop will ask you why you're in such a hurry, whether you didn't see that school-zone sign, or if there's any particular reason you rolled through that stop sign back there -- as if any explanation or justification really matters by that point -- before handing you a traffic ticket.
As you drive away, you sigh (or, if you're the angry type, pound on the steering wheel) knowing your bank account is about to get a couple hundred bucks lighter.
People who've lived in a region long enough swear they know the stretches of road where cops lurk with radar guns at the ready. But to help you better navigate the sprawl of Greater Houston, we give you hard data on our region's greatest speed traps.
Those who have to pass through places like Montgomery, Spring Valley Village, or Magnolia on the regular probably already know what we're about to tell you: Cops will ticket the hell out of you in some of the small towns around here. Montgomery, for instance, has a population of 676 at last count, yet cops there wrote 2,515 traffic tickets last year -- a stunning 3.72 tickets per resident. Traffic cops in Spring Valley Village, population 3,715, wrote over 13,000 tickets last year (3.54 per capita).
We queried traffic citation data from every city in the Greater Houston area from the Texas Office of Court Administration, which compiles municipal court stats across the state. Divide that number by a city's population, and you get the traffic tickets written per capita. Large-ish cities, those with more than 10,000 people, are on one table below, while those with a lower population are on a separate list, just to make sure we're comparing apples to apples.
Among the many variables we didn't account for: the volume of traffic flowing through any particular town, the size of a city's police force, or if a city still has any of those damn red light cameras. This is just raw data pulled from the state (a handful of small cities are missing from the list because they don't have data on file with the state).
Still, we think this list offers an important glimpse into how aggressively some corners of Greater Houston are cracking down on traffic violations. Keep it handy next time you make a road trip. You've been warned.
Cities with a population over 10k:
Cities with a population under 10k: