Traffic stops in Champaign-Urbana
Sgt. Andy Charles parks a dark blue unmarked Ford Crown Victoria on Cottage Grove Avenue just north of the four-way stop at Main Street in Urbana.
Three cars approach the intersection. Each slows down. Not one comes to a complete stop.
Charles does nothing.
That is, until a fourth driver passes the intersection as though there is no stop sign at all.
Then Charles hits the lights and the gas and pulls the car over a few blocks away.
Across town, Champaign patrol Officer Kurt Buckley is on Wright Street at Green Street, watching a group of four pedestrians start to cross Wright after the light has changed. A car has to stop to avoid hitting them in the crosswalk.
Buckley turns east onto Green and U-turns, coming to a stop opposite the group. They start to cross Green, so he follows them to the median in front of the Illini Union. He chats with them. In moments, all four, initially apprehensive, are smiling.
He returns to his squad car, a Ford Taurus (like Charles', the Police Interceptor model), and dictates the names of all four to METCAD, the police dispatch agency. None has any criminal warrants. But one has a civil warrant in a child-support case. Buckley arrests him and takes him to the Champaign County Jail.
Day in and day out, police across the area stop drivers and pedestrians for violations of the state's traffic laws.
For 10 years, they've also been required to record details about every stop. Everything from the driver's age to the age of the vehicle is recorded and reported to the state.
It was part of a state law intended to stop racial profiling by police. In our next installment, we'll take a look at the racial-profiling aspect of the law, about which debate remains. For this installment, we'll look at other facts that emerge from the 2013 data.
In Champaign, 3,248 men and 2,312 women were stopped. In Urbana, the numbers were smaller but the ratio was about the same: 2,423 men and 1,871 women.
In Champaign, more women than men got tickets. When women were stopped, 1,126 got tickets and 1,186 got warnings. But 1,529 men got tickets while 1,719 got warnings.
No matter your gender, your odds were worse in Urbana than across Wright Street: 994 women got tickets while 877 got warnings, and 1,355 men were ticketed while 1,068 were warned.
The average person stopped in Champaign was 34 years old.
The average person stopped in Urbana was a little over 35 years old.
The five most-stopped makes of car in Champaign, in order:
In Urbana, the top five are the same, but the order is slightly different:
A total of three Jaguars were stopped, two in Urbana and one in Champaign.
The average car stopped in Champaign was 11 years old.
The oldest car stopped in Champaign was a 1962 Volkswagen, driven by a man born in 1957. The stop was for a traffic sign/signal violation. He got a written warning.
The average car stopped in Urbana was 10 years old.
The oldest car stopped in Urbana was a 1964 Chevrolet, driven by a man born in 1976. The stop was for a lane violation. He got a ticket.
Police must record a reason for every stop they make, choosing from moving violation, equipment violation, license-plate or registration violation, or commercial-vehicle violation (which rarely occurs). Here are the categories and the reasons for 2013:
The state's traffic stop law was passed in 2004 to prevent racial profiling by police.
Ten years later, what's your take?
Have you been stopped by a Champaign or Urbana officer because of your race? Tell us about it.
Do you think the law is doing do what it is supposed to do? Tell us about it.
Drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.