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Study: Drivers Less Likely to Stop for Black Pedestrians

stock-footage-new-york-city-ny-november-people-walking-on-streets-of-new-york-during-black-friday-shoppingAfrican-Americans who sense they sometimes are putting themselves at mortal risk when they attempt to cross the street now have scientific evidence to validate their fear: A new study suggests that drivers are less likely to stop for Black pedestrians waiting at a crosswalk than white ones.

The clever study, conducted by the Portland State University-based Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC), had three Black and three white men of similar age, height and build — dressed in identical neutral outfits and “without any obvious social or socio-economic characteristics”— cross an unsignalized, marked crosswalk in downtown Portland. The researchers had each pedestrian cross 15 times while observers recorded the reaction of drivers — whether the first car to approach yielded for the pedestrian, how many cars passed before someone yielded and the number of seconds that passed before the pedestrian could cross the street.

Observers found that Black pedestrians got passed by twice as many cars as white pedestrians and had to wait 32 percent longer to get across the street. Such a finding is especially relevant in municipalities like Atlanta that have passed laws giving pedestrians the right-of-way to cross the street at designated, unsignalized crosswalks that are sometimes created in the middle of a long street rather than at an intersection. This results in drivers sometimes having to screech to a halt to stop for a pedestrian who has decided to walk out in front of oncoming traffic, expecting all drivers to stop automatically. Based on the study, the Atlanta system might be especially precarious for African-Americans pedestrians.

“We wanted to test this hypothesis to see if pedestrian’s race would influence driver’s yielding decisions at crosswalks,” lead researcher Kimberly Kahn told The Huffington Post. “For this first initial study, we wanted to see if the effect was even there, and even with the relatively small sample size, we saw a significant variation between races.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pedestrians account for 13 percent of all motor vehicle traffic-related deaths across the country. But a 2014 study by the community development nonprofit Smart Growth America found that African-Americans die at a rate 60 percent higher than non-Hispanic whites.

“These implicit racial attitudes and biases are more likely to influence our behavior when we have to make split-second decisions, when we’re distracted and when we have a lot going on — like when we’re driving,” Kahn said.


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3 thoughts on “Study: Drivers Less Likely to Stop for Black Pedestrians

  1. Out Lander says:

    i can only shake my head.

  2. Levi Batiste says:

    400 years later and there is still no respect as human beings on this planet.

  3. Louis Laszlo says:

    This study is pure BS! The truth is the exact opposite. From what I've seen lately in my own part of town ever since they started building low income housing projects in my neighborhood is how little respect black pedestrians have for motorists. They walk in the right lane forcing you to drive around them even though there is a PERFECTLY GOOD sidewalk, they carelessly jaywalk and cross right in front of you without looking even when you have a solid green light, they take their SWEET F***ING TIME in the crosswalk when the light changes, etc. It's as if nobody's taught them any manners or they just don't care if they get run over. I would like to also add how black women, especially, are always yacking loudly non-stop on their cell phones in public as if there's nobody else around, and black teens can't seem to learn how to keep quiet in a movie theater. These aren't just stereotypes, American-born blacks really are guilty of all of these bad behaviors. I'm just sick and tired of it.

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