According to an extensive state report, more than 204,000 Blacks in Chicago were pulled over by police in 2020. That’s seven times higher than for white drivers, and the number is more than the number of traffic stops from white, Latino, Asian, Native American and Native Hawaiian drivers combined.
The disproportionate number of traffic stops among Black drivers in Chicago occurred when fewer people were on the road because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Black drivers in Chicago also received the most tickets and vehicle searches than every ethnic group in the city, according to the Illinois Traffic and Pedestrian Stop Study. The annual report released by the Illinois Department of Transportation once again re- veals huge racial disparities among drivers on the city’s roadways.
The statewide study came from data collected from 849 law enforcement agencies in cities throughout Illinois. Together, the agencies reported a total of 1,561,514 traffic stops in the state. About 300 police agencies reported 94,042 pedestrian stops last year.
In Chicago, a total of 327, 224 traffic stops were made by police in 2020. Blacks accounted for about 62 percent of the drivers stopped last year; about 10 percent were white.
While law enforcement stopped 204,203 Black drivers for various reasons, there were just 35,053 traffic stops among white drivers. Latino drivers had the second-highest traffic stops with 78,449 in 2020. They were stopped at three times the rate of white drivers, the data shows. That same year, police stopped 7,448 Asian drivers.
Blacks in Chicago make up nearly 30 percent of the city’s population.
Nearly 38 percent of the traffic stops Blacks received last year were for moving violations, including speeding. About 40 percent of the 204,203 traffic stops among Blacks were because something was wrong with their vehicles. And 23 percent of stops were because of license and car registrations. In fact, Black drivers had the highest percentage in equipment and license and registration stops, more than any ethnic group.
Black drivers in Chicago in 2020 also had the most verbal warnings. About 91.6 percent of those traffic stops resulted in verbal warnings by Chicago police. Verbal warnings of white, Latino and Asian drivers made up 91 percent of the outcomes for each racial group undergoing traffic stops.
About 17,172 Black drivers in Chicago last year received tickets, which is 61 percent of over 28,000 tickets given to white, Latino and Asian drivers combined. A total of 3,261 white drivers (9.3 percent) received tickets, and 7,007 Latino drivers were given citations.
The report said 3,556 Black drivers had their vehicles searched last year, the highest number among any ethnic group in Chicago.
By comparison, a total of 182 white drivers had their vehicle searched, and 1,085 vehicle searches were done on Latino drivers. About 20 Asian drivers had their vehicles searched by Chicago police in 2020.
Among Black drivers, 23 percent of vehicle searches led police to find contraband, compared to 32 percent of similar searches on white drivers. Twenty-six percent of searches led police to find contraband in vehicles driven by Latinos. Asian drivers had the highest percentage, with 40 percent of vehicle searches resulting in uncovering contraband.
The annual study was created by a 2003 state law to help identify racial bias in policing roadways and address concerns of racial profiling.
Despite these efforts, racial disparities in traffic stops continue to impact Black drivers. In 2019; 368,332 Black drivers were stopped by Chicago police, which is 62 percent of all drivers who were stopped that year.
Like last year, Black drivers in 2019 had more stops than white, Latino and Asian drivers combined. Between 2016 to 2018, Black drivers were also stopped at a much higher percentage than their racial counterparts.
Thanks to the generosity of funding provided by The Field Foundation of Illinois, Inc. in producing this article.