Examining racial bias as a potential factor in pedestrian crashes

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Introduction: In the US people of color are disproportionately affected by pedestrian crashes. The purpose of this study was to examine the potential for racial bias in driver yielding behaviors at midblock cross-walks in low and high income neighborhoods located in the sprawling metropolitan area of Las Vegas,NV. Methods: Participants (1 white, 1 black female) crossed at a midblock crosswalk on a multilane road in a low income and a high income neighborhood. Trained observers recorded (1) number of cars that passed in the nearest lane before yielding while the pedestrian waited near the crosswalk at the curb (2) number of cars that passed through the crosswalk with the pedestrian in the same half of the roadway. Results: The first car in the nearest lane yielded to the pedestrian while they waited at the curb 51.5% of the time at the high income and 70.7% of the time at the low income crosswalk. Two way ANOVAs found an interaction effect between income and race on yielding behaviors. Simple effects for income revealed that at the high income crosswalk, drivers were less likely to yield to the white pedestrian while she waited at the curb (F(1,122) = 11.18;p = 0.001), and were less likely to yield to the black pedestrian while she was in the same half of the roadway at the high income crosswalk (F(1,124) = 4.40;p = 0.04). Simple effects for race showed significantly more cars passed through the crosswalk while the black pedestrian was in the roadway compared to the white pedestrian at the high income crosswalk (F(1,124) = 6.62;p = 0.01).Conclusions: Bias in driver yielding behavior may be one influencing factor in higher rates of pedestrian crashes for people of color.