When it comes to predicting how often Black drivers will be stopped by traffic police versus how often white drivers will be stopped, you’re better off looking at census numbers than asking people how they feel about other races.
New research from the lab of Calvin Lai, assistant professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, suggests that at a county level, the higher percentage of white residents, the larger the proportion of Black drivers are pulled over.
For this study, Lai and his team looked at county-level disparities in police traffic stops between Black and white drivers and compared them with the implicit and explicit racial biases of residents in those counties.
The traffic stop data came from the Stanford Open Policing Project, an ongoing effort to gather, analyze and share data about traffic stops from around the country. For the implicit and explicit racial biases, the team used county-level data from Project Implicit, a nonprofit research and educational organization that uses online tests to collect data about a variety of different biases. Lai is on the Project Implicit scientific advisory board.