Driving while black is still a major health risk to African-Americans. Of course you may get into an accident but you could also get killed by police during a routine traffic stop. Traffic stops kiled Sandra Bland and Philando Castile .
Could these deadly encounters be linked to cops targeting black drivers? A group of researchers from Stanford University may have answered this question. This group of researchers spent two years analyzing traffic stop data from all 50 states.
Once their study was completed the group launched the Open Policing website to host the results of their study but also all the data collected. Their research includes over 100 million stops from 31 states. The website offers an interactive map displaying the results from each state allowing users to easily access and compare that information in areas across the U.S.
But what is the data telling black people? Or all people for that matter. The data tells black people and people of color what we already knew. Black and Hispanic drivers are pulled over more often and are searched based on less evidence than white drivers. According to Stanford researchers the data shows not only a racial disparity in police practices but is also evidence of racial biases in traffic enforcement.
To get to the meat of the issue the researchers had to use statistical analysis to filter out racial discrimination from effective policing. And the result? Black people get pulled over more than white people. It is a common reality of African-American life.
The research showed that black drivers are stopped at a higher rate than white drivers regardless of the driver’s age or gender. Analysis also showed that police ticket, search, and arrest black drivers 20 percent more often than white drivers. Being of brown skin is even worse. Hispanic drivers are 30 percent more likely to be ticketed than white drivers. Black and Hispanic drivers are also twice as likely to be searched compared to white drivers.
Breaking It Down
Why do I keep doing this? Again and again we see the data that is telling black people what we already know. Driving while black is semi-illegal. This particular study deserves praise because of the work that went into it. The data and analysis is clearly presented and shows powerful academic effort. Thank you Stanford University. The data does not lie. Traffic enforcement is being used as a tool of intimidation of black people. As a black man why am I nervous when I see a cop in the rear view mirror? I’m not talking about the “Am I speeding?” nervous. No, I’m talking about “Am I about to have an unpleasant or even deadly encounter with a police officer?” nervous. Police are abusing their authority to intimidate black drivers. It leaves black parents praying that their child survives being out with the family car. White people need not worry about this. There is but one way to look at these numbers; intimidation. It was revealed that the police of Ferguson, MO used traffic stops, illegal search and seizure and excessive force on the black population. What we are seeing from the Stanford study is the evidence that Ferguson police are the norm and not the exception.