Black people across the U.S., both innocent bystanders and those fleeing the police, have been killed in police chases at a rate nearly three times higher than everyone else, USA Today reports. The newspaper examined federal records for 5,300 fatal pursuits since 1999, when the government started tracking the races of people killed in car crashes. On average, 90 black people were killed each year in police chases, nearly double what would be expected based on their percentage of the population. Deadly pursuits of black drivers were twice as likely to start over minor offenses or non-violent crimes.
In 2013 and 2014, nearly every deadly pursuit triggered by an illegally tinted window, a seat-belt violation or the smell of marijuana involved a black driver. Black people were more likely than were whites to be chased in crowded urban areas, during peak traffic hours, and with passengers in their cars, all factors that can increase the danger to innocent bystanders. Chases of black motorists were about 70 percent more likely to wind up killing a bystander. The findings come at a time of tumult over police tactics that are seen as targeting minorities. Deadly encounters over the past two years between officers and black men have prompted unrest and raised difficult questions about why black people are stopped, searched, arrested, and shot by the police at higher rates than others. Pursuits are among the most dangerous police activities. They have killed more than 6,200 people since 1999. Black people make up 13 percent of the U.S. population but are 28 percent of those killed in pursuits whose race was known.