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Characteristics of Drivers Stopped by Police, 2002

NCJ Number
Erica L Smith; Matthew R Durose
Date Published
June 2006
12 pages
This report presents data on the nature and characteristics of drivers stopped by police in 2002.

Presents data on the nature and characteristics of traffic stops, as collected in the 2002 Police Public Contact Survey, a supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey. Detailed demographic information is presented on the 16.8 million drivers stopped by police in 2002. The report provides statistics about various outcomes of traffic stops, including searches conducted by police, tickets issued to drivers stopped for speeding, arrests of stopped drivers, and police use of force during a traffic stop. The report also discusses the relevance of the survey findings to the issue of racial profiling and provides comparative analysis with prior survey findings.

  • In 2002 an estimated 8.7% of drivers age 16 or older were stopped by police, representing nearly 17 million of the 193 million drivers in the United States.
  • Among traffic stops of young male drivers in 2002, 11% were physically searched or had their vehicle searched by police. Among these young male drivers who were stopped, blacks (22%) and Hispanics (17%) were searched at higher rates than whites (8%).
  • White drivers were more likely than both black and Hispanic drivers to be stopped by police for speeding. Subsequent to being stopped for speeding, blacks (78%) and Hispanics (85%) were more likely than whites (70%) to receive a ticket.