Drivers of Pricey Cars Less Likely to Stop for Pedestrians

woman and child cross at pedestrian crosswalk
Drivers are less likely to yield for men and people of color, and the more expensive the car, the less likely they are to yield at all.

Just because you have money, doesn’t mean you have manners. That’s the upshot of a study coming out of the University of Nevada Las Vegas which shows that drivers of expensive cars are less likely to yield for pedestrians. Worse yet, no matter how expensive your car, you’re less likely to stop for male pedestrians and pedestrians of color.

But before you get too upset, it seems that drivers, in general, no matter how much their cars cost, tend not to stop for pedestrians standing at crosswalks. Out of the 461 cars examined by researchers, only 28 percent stopped to let pedestrians cross. On the other hand, the more expensive the car, the less likely it was that the driver would yield. The researchers, in fact, found they were able to predict which drivers would stop, with a decrease by 3 percent for $1,000 increase in the price of the car, using the Kelley Blue Book, as a price indicator.

Lead author of this study, UNLV Public Health Professor Courtney Coughenour remarked that these results mean that pedestrians are facing real challenges when it comes to their safety. “Drivers need to be made aware that they legally have to yield,” said Coughenour. “It’s hard to say whether they’re not yielding because they don’t know the laws or because they don’t want to yield.”

The UNLV study made use of video data from an earlier study from this institution as the basis of their findings. The analysis was disturbing in that the motorists were also found to yield less frequently for men and non-whites waiting midblock at crosswalks. This is unfortunately consistent with findings from other studies on driver yielding behaviors as they relate to class, race, and gender.

These findings are an important public health concern, due to the fact that pedestrians are highly likely to be injured or perish, even when struck by cars traveling at low speed. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says that the average risk for severe injury when a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle is 10 percent when impact speed is 16 mph, 25 percent for cars going at 23 mph, 50 percent at 31 mph, 75 percent at 39 mph, and going all the way up to a whopping 90 percent at 46 mph.



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