White motorists weasel their way out traffic violations most often, but African-American drivers aren’t so lucky, according to a new survey.
A poll carried out by CheapCarInsurance.net, an online auto insurance website, revealed that 34 percent of Black motorists were most likely to report never being able to successfully talk their way out of a traffic ticket, compared to nearly 20 percent of white drivers who said they were always able to avoid a traffic citation.
In contrast, 27 percent of white motorists indicated that they never were able to avoid a traffic ticket, while just 15 percent of Black drivers said they’ve always been successful in doing so, according to the poll.
It’s unclear whether research conducted by the folks at CheapCarInsurance.net was scientific in nature, but its findings were consistent with similar studies examining disparities between the rates at which Black drivers are stopped by police compared to whites.
In 2016, Vermont became the eighth state to confirm that it stopped African-American drivers more often than whites, citing “implicit racial bias” among its officers. Black motorists also were five times more likely to be searched than white motorists, even though contraband was more likely to be found in the cars of white motorists, a study from the Institute on Race and Justice at Boston’s Northeastern University found.
A Department of Justice investigation into the Ferguson, Missouri, police department — one of whose officers shot and killed Black teen Michael Brown in 2014 — revealed that officers there also targeted Black motorists. While African-Americans make up just 67 percent of the city’s population, they accounted for a whopping 85 percent of traffic stops. The Baltimore Police Department also was found to have conducted discriminatory traffic stops, according to a 2016 DOJ report.
The CheapCarInsurance.net survey comes on the heels of a tumultuous year marred with a number of disturbing and deadly encounters between law enforcement and Black Americans, sparking heated nationwide protests and even targeted attacks on police. Tensions between officers and communities of color are at an all-time high, and the responses of the 2,000 Americans polled in the survey indicate that racial bias is definitely still an issue. Conductors of the poll admit that more research still needs to be done on the matter, however.
So how do motorists in general manage to avoid a ticket? A large majority of respondents said they simply told the officer the truth, which worked 89 percent of the time. The second-most-often-used method for avoiding a citation was showing remorse, while flirting with the police officer came in a close third. Some motorists indicated they even cried on purpose, which was effective 61 percent of the time.
The poll also examined drivers’ sentiments when stopped by an officer, revealing stark disparities in the way African-Americans and whites perceive the police. For instance, 44 percent of Black drivers said they felt scared when a cop pulled them over, compared to just 29 percent of white drivers.
“This feeling may be related to the fact that unarmed black people are five times more likely to be killed by police than unarmed white people,” the poll noted. “News coverage of unarmed shootings in recent years has been extensive.”
In contrast, Black motorists were less likely to feel anxious during a traffic stop (45 percent) than white motorists (66 percent).
The CheapCarInsurance.net poll did not take into account geographical/regional factors or the potential for respondents’ sentiments to have changed over time.