This webinar discusses research exploring how social identity factors (race and gender) influence drivers’ behavior in interactions with pedestrians at crosswalks. One dangerous potential point of conflict for pedestrians within the transportation system is interactions with drivers at crosswalks (NHTSA, 2009), and racial minorities are disproportionately represented in pedestrian fatalities (CDC, 2013). This project examines whether racial discrimination occurs at crosswalks, which may lead to disparate crossing experiences and disproportionate safety outcomes.
Our initial research on this topic revealed predicted racial bias in drivers’ yielding behavior at crosswalks: Black male pedestrians were passed by twice as many cars as, and waited 32% longer than, White male pedestrians (Goddard, Kahn and Adkins, 2015). A new set of studies expands on these prior findings. A controlled field experiment in which Black and White male and female pedestrians crossed the street at two different types of crosswalks (unmarked vs. marked) was conducted, while trained coders marked drivers’ yielding behavior. Results indicated that overall stopping rates were very low at the unmarked crosswalk, and few differences emerged based on pedestrian race and gender. When the crosswalk became marked, stopping rates greatly increased; however, treatment was less equitable. Drivers were less likely to stop for Black and male pedestrians, and when they did stop, they were more likely to stop closer to Black male and Black female pedestrians. These effects occurred regardless of drivers’ race and gender. In order to better understand African American and Black people’s experiences as pedestrians, three focus groups were conducted. Overall, African American and Black focus group participants perceived that drivers treated them differently based on their race by not stopping or infringing on their space in crosswalks. These negative experiences lead to increased stress and harms their walking trips.
Understanding what impacts drivers’ stopping behavior with pedestrians is an important step toward developing policies that promote safe transportation experiences. Although marking the crosswalk increased drivers’ stopping behavior for pedestrians, it also increased the likelihood of discrimination based on pedestrians’ race and gender. To reduce this disparity in treatment, it is recommended that marked crosswalks include additional markings and/or design to reduce the sense that yielding is discretionary and to increase driver yielding compliance.
- Drivers’ yielding behavior at crosswalks is influenced by pedestrians’ race and gender.
- At unmarked crosswalks, stopping rates were very low and few differences emerged based on pedestrian race and gender.
- At marked crosswalks, drivers were less likely to stop for Black and male pedestrians, and when they did stop, they were more likely to stop closer to Black male and Black female pedestrians at a marked crosswalk.
- African American and Black pedestrians discussed how these are stressful interactions that harm their walking trips.
This research explores social identity-related factors that influence drivers’ behaviors in interactions with pedestrians at crosswalks. One dangerous potential point of conflict in our transportation system to pedestrians is interactions with drivers at crosswalks (NHTS, 2003). In 2010, there was one crash-related pedestrian death every two hours and an injury every eight minutes (CDC, 2013). Racial minorities are disproportionately represented in pedestrian fatalities: From 2000 to 2010, pedestrian fatality rates for Black and Hispanic men (3.93 and 3.73 per 100,000) were more than twice the rate of 1.78 for White men (CDC, 2013). If drivers yield differently to Black and White pedestrians at crosswalks, this may lead to disparate crossing experiences and disproportionate safety outcomes. We hypothesize that, similar to other forms of racial discrimination that minorities experience across various domains in society, drivers will exhibit racial bias when making decisions about whether or not to stop for pedestrians waiting to cross the street at a marked crosswalk.
Dr. Kimberly Barsamian Kahn is an Associate Professor of Social Psychology at Portland State University, and leads the Gender, Race, and Sexual Prejudice (GRASP) Lab. She received her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, with minors in Sport Psychology and Quantitative Psychology. She received her M.A. in Social Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Kahn was a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Center for Social Research and Intervention at Lisbon University Institute in Lisbon, Portugal. Dr. Kahn’s research addresses contemporary forms of subtle bias and prejudice. Specifically, she examines hidden forms of bias such as stereotype threat, phenotypic racial stereotypicality bias, masculinity threat, and implicit bias. Her work moves beyond studying broad categorical distinctions between groups to provide a more nuanced and fine-grained analysis of modern prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. Within transportation contexts, her research focuses on bias in intermodal interactions between drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
This 60-minute webinar is eligible for 1 hour of professional development credit for AICP (see our provider summary). We can provide an electronic attendance certificate for other types of certification maintenance.
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