"I think Black people do drive": Fact checking Pat Toomey's recent claims about BIPOC driving statistics | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

"I think Black people do drive": Fact checking Pat Toomey's recent claims about BIPOC driving statistics

click to enlarge Pat Toomey in Pittsburgh in 2016 - CP PHOTO: RYAN DETO
CP photo: Ryan Deto
Pat Toomey in Pittsburgh in 2016
In an interview with York, Pa.’s WPMT television station, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Lehigh) was asked about the recent Georgia election law and how Black people and other people of color who have opposed that bill said it will make it harder for their communities to vote. Toomey then called that a “ridiculous argument” and then insisted that forms of identifications, like drivers license, are ubiquitous among everyone, including BIPOC people.

"Are we really supposed to believe African Americans and people of color don't drive in America? That they don’t get drivers’ licenses?” said Toomey to WPMT. “And even if you thought that, which I don’t. I think Black people do drive.”
Americans of all backgrounds do, of course, drive. But there are also millions of Americans who don’t drive, or even have access to a vehicle, and those Americans are disproportionately BIPOC.

According to the most recent Census data, 8.7% of households in America don’t have access to a vehicle. Breakdowns of household data by race are only available from the 2000 Census, but even data from 20 years ago shows that nearly 6 million non-white households in the U.S. had no access to a vehicle, and finds driverless rates among people of color were disproportionately higher than white households.


In Pennsylvania, 11% of households don’t have access to a vehicle, and in big cities in the commonwealth, those car-less households are even higher. In Pittsburgh, low-income people are actually becoming increasingly reliant on public transit, and Black Pittsburghers have increased their walk to work rates significantly over the years.

Even in Allentown, where Toomey used to serve on the city’s Government Study Commission, 19% of households are without access to a vehicle. Allentown is 52% Latino and about 14% Black.

There are at least 955,000 people in Pennsylvania who don’t have access to a car, according to breakdowns of single and multi-person household data from the Census. Looking back to the 2000 Census, about 237,000 non-white households in PA had no access to a vehicles. About 70% of those non-white households in Pennsylvania without vehicle access were Black.

Toomey went on to praise the Georgia election law and said it provides for a free government issued identification card to be used in voting. He defended these as “election integrity” measures, and encouraged Pennsylvania state legislators to create a similar law,


Pennsylvania passed a Voter ID law in 2012, which some Republicans admitted was to help Republican candidates win. The law was struck down by the state Supreme Court in 2014 as unconstitutional and overly onerous on people wanting to vote.

Toomey is retiring at the end of his term in 2022, and has said he will not seek election in other offices. 

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