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Who gets the most speeding tickets? Men or women? Young or old?

ST. PAUL — State troopers have in recent years written tickets to drivers as young as 14 and as old as 103. But ask any trooper about high-speed drivers, State Patrol chief Matt Langer said, and "they're talking about younger drivers rather than older drivers."

Drivers age 16 to 25 received 33 percent of the State Patrol's speeding tickets but are only 13 percent of Minnesota's population. Drivers 40 or older also got 33 percent of tickets but make up 49 percent of the population.

The State Patrol's ticket database shows a stark trend: Speeding tickets peak at age 19 and then drop off steadily as drivers age.

The tendency to exceed the speed limit — and take other risks on the road — is reflected in young drivers' far higher car insurance rates.

"The reason they're being charged so much more is that they're so much more risky than everybody else," said Chip Hayssen, president of the Roseville-based Safeway Driving School.

So why are younger drivers ticketed more? Troopers say they're not trying to pick out younger drivers. There's a simpler answer: Young drivers tend to go faster.

The typical 15-year-old given a speeding ticket by the State Patrol was going an average of 19.2 mph over the posted limit. This fell to 16.9 mph over for ticketed 25-year-olds, 16.1 mph for 35-year-olds, and 15.2 mph for 55-year-olds.

This isn't to say all young drivers are speeders. Mark Adelman, a St. Paul-based Allstate Insurance agent, noted that young drivers can lower their insurance rates by getting good grades in school or taking defensive-driving courses — behaviors that tend to correlate with safer driving.

"People who have — like good students — taken defensive-driver tests perform better than people that don't have that," Adelman said.

The database of speeding tickets the State Patrol released to the Pioneer Press doesn't list the ticketed drivers' race. It does track gender, though, and at all ages men are more likely to be ticketed. At every age, males get at least 50 percent more tickets than females. The gender disparity is starkest among Minnesotans over 55, where men get more than twice as many tickets as women.

The age disparity helps explain why speeding remains a problem even though tickets and warnings are constantly deterring existing drivers from exceeding the limit.

"There's always a new set of 19-year-old drivers coming along that we need to work hard to educate," Langer said.

The Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.

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