This is not — repeat not — a spoof. Two Portland, Ore., attorneys have created a smartphone application that promises to reduce the incidence of black drivers
being shot or choked running afoul of the law if (when?) they are pulled over. The app, styled “Driving While Black,” according to the Associated Press, offers “common sense advice to motorists of all races and outline[s] what civil rights you have during a stop.”
With the phone hopefully in a hands-free device, the app allows drivers to send an alert to friends and family that they have been pulled over. There’s also a recording function to document the interaction with an officer.
The app is not the first to deal with the increasingly sensitive topic of traffic stops.
Three Georgia teenagers created “Five-O,” an app released this summer that lets people rate their interactions with law enforcement. And last month, American Civil Liberties Union affiliates in four states unveiled “Mobile Justice,” an app that allows users to take video of police encounters and upload the video to the ACLU. It’s modeled on “Stop and Frisk Watch,” an app released for New Yorkers in 2012.
Although the app doesn’t dispense legal advice, such as explaining how to beat a traffic ticket, one of its creators, Mariann Hyland, does offer practical advice to drivers who find it difficult to relax when they are convinced they have been stopped because of the color of their skin:
They describe a pattern of getting pulled over by the police, and they find it to be very frustrating and sometimes that frustration can lead to anger. You have to always be mindful to check the anger.
Easier said than done.
A helpful video about the app has been created: