More States Receive Grants To Combat Racial Disparities In Ticketing
In 2005, Congress created the Section 1906 grant program to provide funding to states that agree to collect and maintain demographic data on traffic stops, then evaluate that data and use the findings to develop programs to reduce racial profiling. Sixteen years later, Congress chose to expand the Section 1906 grant program after advocacy by the Transportation Equity Caucus (TEC), which the League of American Bicyclists contributed to as a member of the TEC. Section 1906 grants are administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and may be referred to as either Racial Profiling Prohibition grants or Racial Profiling Data Collection grants.
The TEC identified the Section 1906 program as a priority in 2020 and formed a working group focused on improving the program and increasing its use by states. It was an existing but underutilized program to address one of the many aspects of racial injustice in our transportation system – disparities in ticketing driven by policy and program choices that are identifiable in ticketing data. Data on Section 1906 grants is only available starting in fiscal year 2017, but in fiscal year 2019 only four states used the program which distributed less than a quarter of its available funds.
In 2021, the TEC published the following recommendations for the Section 1906 program, with the goal of increasing its utilization by states:
Clarify that traffic stops can be stops of people biking and walking, in addition to driving
Make policy and programmatic changes eligible grant activities
Fund a qualified third party to assist states in accessing and implementing grants
Increase funding for the program
Remove the ability for grant funding to be reallocated to enforcement programs if not used for grant purposes
Congress ultimately did include positive changes to the program advocated for by the TEC in the Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). Recent proposed rulemaking has bolstered these positive changes. Below is a review of those changes and statements from proposed rulemaking.
In this map you can see every state that has received a Section 1906 grant since fiscal year 2017, the number of grants received, and the overall amount received. Thanks to changes in the IIJA/BIL, over 40% of Section 1906 funding awarded since 2017 was distributed in 2022.
In fiscal year 2022, nine states received Section 1906 grants worth more than $8 million. This is a stark contrast from any previous year of the program – nearly four times the grant funding – and a very promising win for advancing racial justice. With continued support for the program, including technical assistance, we hope more states continue to access this funding to identify racial disparities in ticketing data and demonstrate leadership on developing better policies, programs, and practices to reduce the harm caused by racial profiling.