Fair and Equitable
Traffic Safety Enforcement

Mothers Against Drunk Driving Supports Fair and Equitable Traffic Safety Enforcement

As the leading organization dedicated to eliminating substance-impaired driving and serving victims of this crime, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) recognizes that we must do better to address inequities in traffic stops while preserving fair and just enforcement of essential traffic safety laws.


More than 20 million people are stopped for traffic violations each year, making traffic stops the most frequent engagement law enforcement has with the public. MADD acknowledges the urgent need to help foster trust between law enforcement and communities of color, who are disproportionally subject to traffic stops and searches. A study of nearly 100 million traffic stops over a decade across all 50 states found that Black drivers were stopped more frequently than White drivers.[1]  One analysis of 20 million stops in North Carolina over a 14-year period found that Black people were 63% more likely than White people to be stopped while driving, despite being 16% less likely to drive.[2] Multiple studiesincluding eight conducted in Connecticut, identified statistically significant disparities in stops and searches of Black drivers. Black drivers are 1.5 times more likely to be stopped and almost three times more likely to be searched than White drivers. The studies concluded that these disparities are driven largely by traffic stops for administrative and equipment violations not shown to effectively prevent hazardous driving.[3] 

MADD works closely with law enforcement officers around the country, supporting enforcement efforts to ensure that our roads are safe. Officers are on the front lines of traffic safety every single day. Without traffic safety enforcement, and the dedication of police officers, traffic fatalities and injuries would increase exponentially. We must do what we can to help foster a higher level of trust between police agencies and the communities they serve. The stakes are too important  the cost is too high. Efforts to ensure that enforcement is fair and just must be paramount.

Over the past three years, the U.S. has seen an increase in impaired driving, especially during the pandemic. Overall, drunk driving deaths increased by 14% in 2020 and again in 2021, rising to more than 13,000 for the first time since 2006.[4]  In addition to communities of color being disproportionately subject to stops and searches,  there is also a disproportionate impact on the number of fatalities. 

Prior to the pandemic, American Indian or Alaska Native (AIAN), Black or African American, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (NHPI) had higher traffic fatality rates per 100,000 population than White people.[5] MADD believes we must do more to advocate for high-visibility traffic safety enforcement that reduces hazardous driving behavior. Multiple studies have found that disparities in traffic stops are reduced when enforcement is focused on hazardous driving behaviors, such as speeding, aggressive driving, failure to maintain a single lane, and failure to obey traffic control signals/device – indicators of impaired driving and increased crash risk.[5] 

While self-reflection is a critical aspect of this work, over the coming weeks and months, MADD will engage actively. We will listen and learn with new and existing stakeholders. We will leverage data driven solutions, technology, and best practices that will better utilize finite traffic safety resources in ways that reduce impaired driving without causing undue harm to any community. We will ensure there is an appropriate level of education and awareness of this issue internally and among all stakeholders. These actions will ensure all communities feel safe, valued, and protected while aligning with our number one priority to eliminate impaired driving, save lives, and prevent injuries on U.S. roads, until we reach a nation of No More Victims.

[1] Emma Pierson et al., “A large-scale analysis of racial disparities in police stops across the United States,” Nature Human Behavior 4 (2020): 736-745 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-020-0858-1

[2] Baumgartner, F. R., Epp, D. A., & Shoub, K. (2018). Suspect citizens: What 20 million traffic stops tell us about policing and race. Cambridge University Press, pp. 69–77.

[3] Testing for Disparities in Traffic Stops:  Best Practices from the Connecticut Model (2020) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/1745-9133.12528

[4] National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Overview of Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes in 2021 (April 2023) https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813435
[5] Testing for Disparities in Traffic Stops:  Best Practices from the Connecticut Model (2020) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/1745-9133.12528