FBI TRAFFIC STOP REPORT: WHO IS STOPPED
The most common reason for contact with the police is being a driver in a traffic stop. In 2011, an estimated 42% of face-to-face contacts that U.S. residents had with police occurred for this reason. About half of all traffic stops that year resulted in a traffic ticket. Approximately 3% of all stopped drivers were searched by police during a traffic stop.
These findings are based on the Police-Public Contact Survey (PPCS), a BJS survey that interviews U.S. residents about their contacts with police during the previous 12 months. Persons who reported more than one instance of face-to-face contact during the year are asked to describe the most recent occurrence. The PPCS has been conducted about every three years since 1996.
An estimated 26.4 million persons age 16 or older indicated that their most recent contact with the police in 2011 was as a driver pulled over in a traffic stop. These drivers represented 12% of the nation's 212 million drivers.
A greater percentage of male drivers (12%) than female drivers (8%) were stopped by police during 2011. A higher percentage of black drivers (13%) than white (10%) and Hispanic (10%) drivers were stopped by police during 2011.
Stopped drivers reported speeding as the most common reason for being pulled over in 2011.
Approximately 80% of drivers pulled over by police in 2011 felt they had been stopped for a legitimate reason. In 2011, about 68% of black drivers believed police had a legitimate reason for stopping them compared to 84% of white and 74% of Hispanic drivers.
In 2011, about 3% of traffic stops led to a search of the driver, the vehicle, or both. Police were more likely to search male drivers (4%) than female drivers (2%).
A lower percentage of white drivers stopped by police in 2011 were searched (2%) than black (6%) or Hispanic (7%) drivers.