Drivers of expensive cars more likely to hit pedestrians

The number of pedestrians struck by motor vehicles has increased in recent years. In 2018, 6,283 pedestrians lost their lives in vehicle collisions, the highest number since 1990.

The study by the Journal of Transport & Health investigated how drivers interact with pedestrians in a crosswalk. The researchers observed gender and racial biases in how drivers reacted to people in a crosswalk, and how dangerous driving practices increase alongside the value of a vehicle.

Four pedestrians, one crosswalk

The study took place in two different crosswalks in Las Vegas. Researchers measured how 461 drivers interacted with four volunteers of different demographics as they attempted to cross the street. The evidence suggests:

  • Gender discrimination: Drivers stopped for female volunteers 31% of the time. Drivers allowed male volunteers to cross only 25% of the time.
  • Racial discrimination: Researchers observed a similar disparity with volunteers of color. Cars stopped for white volunteers 7% more often than black volunteers.
  • Increased value, increased danger: The more expensive the vehicle, the less likely the driver is to yield. Using values listed in Kelly Blue Book, researchers observed a 3% drop in yielding for every $1,000 increase in the car’s value. The data suggest that drivers of expensive vehicles are exponentially more likely to drive dangerously.

In general, only 28% of the 461 cars observed stopped for pedestrians at all.

Consistent findings across borders

Studies in California and Portland drew similar conclusions, while a Finland study reveals an interesting observation. The European researchers took a more behavioral approach to their work, discovering that both “conscientious people” and “disagreeable men” enjoyed driving luxury vehicles. The data suggest that driving a high-value car does not make one an unethical driver, but rather that unethical drivers prefer high-value vehicles.

Practice responsible road safety

The roads have not been this unsafe for nearly 20 years. As much as motorists need to practice greater safety in crosswalks, pedestrians need to protect themselves against danger. Anyone with questions about a traffic incident can bring their questions to a local lawyer experienced with car accidents.

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