UNLV Study Finds That Motorists Are Less Likely to Yield to Black Pedestrians Than to Whites

A new study by researchers at the University of Nevada Las Vegas finds that motorists are less likely to yield to Black pedestrians in crosswalks than is the case for White pedestrians. The authors speculate that this may be a reason for the higher rate of fatal pedestrian incidents in the African American community.

Researchers used two women – one White and one Black – and had them cross streets in two neighborhoods on a sunny morning. One neighborhood was high-income and the other low-income. The results showed that 20.6 percent of motorists did not yield to the Black pedestrian in the crosswalk compared to 2.9 percent of the White pedestrians. The racial disparity was greater in the high-income neighborhood compared to the low-income neighborhood.

Courtney Coughenour, a professor of community health sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the lead author of the study, stated that “often times the decision of whether or not to yield to a pedestrian is made very quickly, so it is likely that any bias drivers may have is unconscious.”

The study, “Examining Racial Bias as a Potential Factor in Pedestrian Crashes,” was published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention. It may be accessed here.

The results of this study mirror the findings of a similar research effort mounted by scholars at Portland State University and the University of Arizona that was discussed in an earlier JBHE post.

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