Let’s move to the future faster with fewer police-driver interactions. Once cars are automated, we know there will be far fewer police stops of motorists. The cars will not be programmable to break the law.
What about now?
Besides stopping dangerous drivers, such as drunk drivers, the primary advantage of police stops is that a large number of felons also break traffic laws. Basic police training teaches that traffic stops are a tool to find serious criminals. But there is a huge social cost to this approach. The negative relationship with African American communities and many police agencies stems from the large number of stops of African American drivers. Some of these encounters go horribly wrong, as we are all painfully aware. Many African Americans know there are certain communities in which they will never drive even five miles per hour above the speed limit because the police are known to strictly enforce traffic laws as to them.
Most of the time that police interact with the public, it is for a traffic stop based upon illegal but not dangerous driving such as for minor speeding, expired license plates or a broken tail light.
After the officer stops you, you must produce three pieces of paper or plastic, all of which the officer could check remotely from a database: license, registration, proof of insurance. Your failure to have the piece of paper is a crime. Really?
Why are we stopping people who are driving relatively safely? Many states send a ticket in the mail. Why do we criminalize failing to carry a piece of paper?
Why not send a computer signal that could flash on the dashboard when the ticket is for a broken tail light or speeding, like your radio tells you what song is being played.
Let’s use technology to give ourselves more freedom and less intrusion. I am not talking about stops for dangerous drivers. But for most Americans, we’d rather live in a country with more freedom, and that means fewer opportunities for police officers to stop, detain and search us.