(KTXL) – A woman is continuing her efforts to make sure teenage drivers of color are not put in dangerous situations during traffic stops.
Traffic stops are often routine but they can and do turn deadly, such as the killing of Philando Castile in Minnesota during a 2017 traffic stop. His death drew widespread protests years before George Floyd was killed.
The officer who shot Castile believed he was reaching for a gun.
Jackie Carter, executive director of the Alliance for Safe Traffic Stops, is urging driver’s education programs around the country to teach new drivers how to handle situations when confronted by an officer while behind the wheel.
“We’re taught how to drive a car but we’re not taught how to interact during a traffic stop,” Carter told FOX40.
After Castile was killed, Carter came up with what she dubbed the Not Reaching pouch. It stores all documents required during a traffic stop in a pouch connected to the dashboard and in plain sight.
But Carter said she realized the pouch was just one element that can defuse a tense situation. There are things many Black parents like Carter commonly tell their kids when they start to drive.
“We’ve had the talk with our sons. ‘Keep your hands on the wheel, don’t make any sudden movements, don’t ride four deep in a car,'” Carter explained.
Carter said why Black parents need those talks and why Black drivers feel more threatened by police is a larger issue. Her more immediate goal is to teach what she calls proactive compliance to student drivers who currently get no such training.
Police ride alongs have given her a new view of what officers go through.
“All the split-second decisions that they have to make and they have to make them and it literally could be the difference between life or death,” Carter explained.
The ASTS is working with several school districts and police unions in Minnesota on a training program.
Carter said she sees an opportunity to bridge the gap between police and some members of the community.
“‘Cause not only are we training teens and new drivers, we’re training law enforcement as well,” she explained.
The group is recommending traffic stop simulations that can be part of a driver’s education course.
Learn more about the Alliance for Safe Traffic Stops and the Not Reaching pouch by clicking or tapping here.