BLACK VOICES

New Law Mandates Students Learn What To Do During A Traffic Stop

The Illinois law is aimed at preventing a situation from escalating when teens are pulled over by police.

Students in Illinois will soon learn a necessary ― and possibly life-saving ― skill in their driver’s education classes.

A new state law, signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday, mandates that teachers dedicate instruction time to ensuring that students learn what to do and what not to do when they are pulled over by the police.

This law, according to ABC 7, is aimed at preventing teens from panicking during traffic stops and doing something that may seem like a red flag to cops.

“My hope is that if we uniformly require that driver’s education include the protocol and what is expected when you interact with a police officer that things will not escalate,” Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Ill.), who sponsored the bill, told the local station.

Currently, the “Rules of the Road” book that new drivers have used for years has tips on how to interact with police and, Eddie Chapman, a retired Chicago police officer also wrote his own book on the subject called “Drive Safe, Stop Safe,” which is used in Chicago Public Schools. 

“Initially, everyone goes for their driver’s license. Be it in your wallet or your purse. And that move itself can cause alarm to an officer walking up to the car,” Chapman said, advising drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and be cooperative.

After Latanya Haggerty was gunned down during a traffic stop in 1999, Chapman made it his mission to educate new drivers, according to ABC 7.

Despite Chapman’s hopes that driver education can prevent another deadly incident or Morrison’s claim to the Chicago Tribune that preventing escalation relies on the driver responding “in a responsible, correct way,” it’s hard to ignore those who acted in a cooperative manner but still fell victim to police violence. Philando Castile, for example, announced to the officer who pulled him over that he was reaching for his license was still killed. 

While the new Illinois law, which goes into effect for the 2017-2018 school year, may help young drivers remain calm during police encounters, it may not be as useful in the face of implicit bias.

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