Last week, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed the Driving Equity Act, making it the first major city in the US to ban low-level traffic stops. The law, which will go into effect in early 2022, will also require city police to collect and publicly release data on traffic stops.
Multiple studies have demonstrated that Black drivers get pulled over far more frequently for low-level infractions than other drivers in the US. These stops—which are described as “pretextual,” or covering for racial profiling or fishing—have a pattern of turning into violent and even fatal interactions.
In order to reduce violent altercations between police and drivers, Philadelphia drivers can no longer be pulled over for infractions like driving with a single brake light out, with obscured license plates, without an inspection sticker, with bumped issues, or with items hanging from the rearview mirror. Instead of an in-person ticket, these infractions will result in a ticket that is either mailed to the driver’s residence or placed on their windshield while parked.
The Philadelphia Police Department took part in drafting the new legislation and said in a statement: “We believe this is a fair and balanced approach to addressing racial disparity without compromising public safety.”