Re-Prioritizing Traffic Stops To Reduce Motor Vehicle Crash Outcomes and Racial Disparities


Following the intervention, Fayetteville experienced a reduction in total crashes, injurious crashes, and traffic fatalities– by 17, 23, and 28 percent, respectively. 

In 2010, Fayetteville, North Carolina, experienced a high motor vehicle crash rate while also combating eroding community trust in police. At the request of their newly appointed Chief Harold Medlock, the Department of Justice (DOJ) reviewed the police department’s practices and policies and found evidence of racial disparities in traffic stops compared to Fayetteville’s racial composition. The DOJ recommended the high prioritization of safety stops. The Fayetteville Police Department took a public health anti-racist approach to alter motor vehicle crash outcomes and racial disparities in traffic stops by re-prioritizing safety stops over investigatory and economic stops–regulatory and equipment– stops during the intervention period between 2013 and 2016. To measure the impact of the intervention, the department compared traffic stops, motor vehicle crashes, and crime measures from the Fayetteville Police Department to a composite control agency of eight similarly large North Carolina police departments. As a result, the Fayetteville police department experienced decreased motor vehicle injuries and racial disparities.

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Key Findings: 

  • During the intervention period, Fayetteville increased the number of safety stops by 121 percent compared to control agencies.
  • From 2010, Fayetteville’s safety stops increased from 30 percent to over 80 percent of traffic stops by the end of the intervention period.
  • Traffic stop disparities for Black drivers decreased by seven percent.
Mike Dolan Fliss, Frank Baumgartner, Paul Delamater, Steve Marshall, Charles Poole & Whitney Robinson
Injury Epidemiology