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The case for stopping traffic stops

LAPD traffic stop on Woodman Avenue in Arleta, Calif.
LAPD traffic stop on Woodman Avenue in Arleta, Calif.
Chris Yarzab via Flickr

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What would happen of Los Angeles police only pulled people over for imminently dangerous road behaviors?

Presumably there would a whole lot fewer traffic stops, like for driving slightly over the speed limit or failing to signal a lane change.

In fact, UC Berkeley law professor Christopher Kutz posits that curtailing the number of traffic stops for minor infractions would decrease the number of stops motivated by racial profiling. Furthermore, he says, fewer traffic stops could mean safer roads. He cites countries known for having aggressive driving cultures like Spain, England and France, which have 40%-60% of the U.S.’s fatality rate, despite traffic stops being made 20% to 30% as frequently. As for officer safety, Kutz claims that traffic stops are a leading cause of death.

Could Los Angeles benefit from fewer traffic stops? Or would drivers abuse that leniency?


Christopher Kutz, Professor of Law at UC Berkeley who recently wrote the op-ed in the Los Angeles Times calling for a ban on traffic stops