High-Frequency Location Data Shows That Race Affects The Likelihood of Being Stopped and Fined For Speeding


Minority drivers pay 23 to 34 percent more in fines for the same level of speed as white drivers. 

Prior research on race, speeding, and citations has focused on the effects of a driver’s race on the punishment received, never exploring whether race could also influence the probability of being stopped by police.  This study used 20 billion observations of location data from rideshare drivers operating on the Lyft platform in Florida between August 2017 and August 2020 and administrative data on driver’s race and police stops for speeding to measure the effect that driver race has on the probability of being stopped for speeding. The authors also ran a complementary analysis on reoffense and accident rates to investigate whether the differences in an officer’s treatment of minorities stem from a desire to reduce accidents. The study found that racial minorities (Asian, Black, Hispanic, and Pacific Islanders) are more likely to be stopped and cited for speeding and found no evidence that racial differences in accident and reoffense rates can explain these estimates.

You can read the full text here.

Key Findings:

  • Relative to white drivers traveling the same speed, minorities are 24 to 33 percent more likely to be stopped for speeding.
  • Analysis of racial differences found that recidivism rates across minority and white drivers are statistically indistinguishable. 
  • White and minority drivers drove similar speeds relative to the legal speed limit; results suggest that officers are not ticketing motorists because of differences in minority driving behavior that is not captured by the driver’s speed.
Pradhi Aggarwal, Alec Brandon, Ariel Goldszmidt, Justin Holz, John A. List, Ian Muir, Gregory Sun, & Thomas Yu
Becker Friedman Institute & Chicago Experiments Initiative