It’s sad but true that many young African Americans fear for their lives when they are pulled over by the police.
Reaching for their licence and registration could cost them their lives.
Don’t laugh, it’s happened.
A Virginia couple have come up with a solution they hope will save lives.
It’s called the “Not Reaching Pouch” and clips to the air vent on the dash of your car.
The pouch provides quick access to requested documents such as licence, registration and insurance cards, leaving your hands visible at all times.
Jackie and Wayne Carter came up with the idea after they saw a news item about traffic stops that had turned deadly, such as those that led to the deaths of Sandra Bland and Philando Castile.
Castile, 32, was driving with his girlfriend and her child when he was pulled over by the police in July, 2016.
Officer Jeronimo Yanez claimed to have see Castile reaching for a gun and fired several shots.
He later testified that he “had no choice,” because he “thought he was going to die.”
Moments after the shooting, however, Castile can be heard saying he “wasn’t reaching” for his gun.
Figures from the Bureau of Statistics show the most common interaction with police occurs at traffic stops.
In 2011, an estimated 42 per cent of face-to-face contacts between police and US residents occurred for this reason.
About half of the stops during this period resulted in a traffic infringement being issued.
Some three per cent of drivers were searched by police during traffic stops.
The figures show that black drivers (13 per cent) are more likely to be pulled over than white (10 per cent) or Hispanic (10 per cent) drivers.
But there were no statistical differences in the race of people involved in street stops.
In the wake of recent violent confrontations, the American Automobile Association (AAA) has issued the following guidelines on what to do if you are pulled over:
- Keep hands in plain view of the officer
- Avoid reaching or making sudden movements
- Never reach under your seat
- Always carry proper identification: a valid driver’s license, proof of vehicle registration and current proof of insurance
- Do not retrieve or reach for documentation until instructed
Since it was launched three years ago, the “Not Reaching” pouch has sold more than 1000 units and Carter says she has given away just as many pouches.
“We shouldn’t have to this,” Carter says.
“But if there is something we can do to take this off the table, if this makes the interaction [between drivers and officers] more favourable, then let’s just do it.”