January 27, 2016

Black drivers are twice as likely to get ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt compared to white drivers in Florida, according to a new study by the American Civil Liberties Union. The organization analyzed 2011 and 2014 ticketing data across the state and found that in at least one county, the rate of ticketing was four times higher for black motorists. About 92% of white Floridians wear seat belts, while around 86% of blacks do, according to a state study.

The findings come at a time when the treatment of blacks by police is under heightened scrutiny. In 2015, Walter Scott and Sam DuBose, both unarmed black men, were killed by police following routine traffic stops. “Because even routine traffic stops can tragically escalate, communities that are disproportionately targeted for seat belt enforcement face a greater risk of harm simply because they are stopped more often,” the ACLU said in a blog post.

The ACLU recommended that state officials investigate counties with large discrepancies in ticketing rates among races. The group also wants law enforcement agencies to start collecting and releasing public data on the basis and outcome for traffic stops, including the race of the people being stopped.

Officials in several Florida counties declined to comment, according to the New York Times.

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