Philadelphia becomes first major US city to ban traffic stops for minor violations
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Philadelphia becomes first major US city to ban traffic stops for minor violations

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed the Driving Equality Act into law Wednesday, which will ban traffic stops for minor violations starting early 2022.

The Driving Equality Act amends Title 12 to “clarify the appropriate methods and circumstances of enforcement of traffic violations in order to provide for the fair and transparent administration of the traffic violations, prevent racial disparities, and protect public safety.” It was originally passed by Philadelphia City Council in a 14-2 vote in October.

The new law was signed Wednesday and will prevent police from stopping drivers for “secondary” stops, which includes tinted windows, broken tail lights, and other minor obstructions. This is differentiated from “primary” offenses that are considered to be dangerous to the public.

When signing the bill, Kenney tweeted:

Today I signed an executive order to implement the legislation set forth in the Driving Equality bills. Introduced by [Councilmember Isaiah Thomas], this legislation establishes Philadelphia as the 1st large U.S. city to ban minor traffic stops with the goal of healing police-community relations.

The New York Times on October 31 published the results of an investigation into police traffic stops in the US, finding that in the last five years, officers have killed more than 400 vehicle occupants who were “not wielding a gun or knife [or] under pursuit for a violent crime.”

Councilmember Isaiah Thomas, who introduced the Driving Equality Act, tweeted on the same day that the Driving Equality Act “reinforces that public safety can be achieved with other methods than traffic stops. Traffic stops are traumatic for drivers and scary for police officers. Limiting them makes everyone safer and communities stronger.”