Update: Read the ACLU's statement on the legislature's compromise bill on distracted driving, which was signed into law by Governor Baker in November 2019.
Massachusetts has a documented history of wide-ranging racial disparities in how police conduct traffic stops. A 2004 statewide report showed that 2 in 3 police departments disproportionately pull over Black and Latinx drivers. But after the report, the state stopped collecting such race data, and you can’t manage what you don’t measure.
This year, lawmakers on Beacon Hill are pushing to improve traffic safety by addressing the problem of distracted driving. But it’s critical that this push is matched with an equally robust effort to address the problem of racial disparities in traffic stops. Over-policing of Black and brown drivers is a significant safety issue that we must not ignore.
This would bring Massachusetts in line with nearly 20 other states that require police to record basic information about traffic stops as a matter of course.