Study by Nevada shows that every thousand bucks of added value decreases pedestrian yield odds by three per cent.
Studies have been noted confirming that BMW and Audi owners are driving like idiots and that the rich are different from you and me, particularly behind the wheel. Now a new study from University of Nevada researchers shows that the cost of cars is a predictor of driver behavior.
The study, Estimated car cost as a indicator of driver yielding behaviors for pedestrians, saw one black and one white female and male taking their lives into their hands crossing at a typical intersection of Las Vegas.
A fifth of the vehicles barely yielded to pedestrians. For females and whites they stopped more often compared with males and non-whites. The researchers chose mid-block pedestrian crossings within a mile of a school, chosen “in an effort to increase the probability that local drivers would be used to the presence of pedestrians in that specific area.” Research participants survived the experiment because they did not step off the curb until they were confident the car would yield.
The cars were filmed using the Kelly Blue Book, and the cost of the car was calculated. The researchers found that while sex and race did make a difference, the car’s value was the greatest factor.
Only the cost of the car was a significant predictor of driver yielding, meaning that the odds of yielding decreased around 3 percent when the car cost increased by one thousand dollars.
They seek to figure out the reasons for this and eventually focus on other research we addressed that concluded, “Higher standing in the social class has been positively correlated with increased feelings of superiority and narcissism.” They also note:
Drivers of higher cost cars may have been less accustomed to and ill prepared to yield for pedestrians, as higher SES [socio-economic status] is associated with lower rates of active transportation. However, the roads were relatively low speed at 35mph and the researchers made their intent to cross obvious with more than enough time for drivers who were paying attention to stop. Even if it was the case that the drivers who failed to yield did so because they failed to anticipate a crosswalk or the presence of pedestrians, it does not bode well for pedestrian safety, as the Las Vegas metropolitan area has numerous midblock crosswalks.
The authors of the study state that route design is an problem.
The urban design is very characteristic of sprawl including auto-dominated development with separated land uses, such as residential areas separated from retail or entertainment districts, numerous high speed arterial streets with large block distances.
The mid block crosswalks were added “in an effort to facilitate non-intersection crossings.” Writing in Streetsblog, Kea Wilson picks up on this issue of road design.
Even in the so-called “ideal” road conditions of the Vegas study, researchers noted that pedestrians had to walk across four vehicle lanes — and Nevada law requires each of those lanes to be at least 12 feet wide. Safe streets advocates have long argued that a 10-foot lane is vastly safer for pedestrians, because drivers tend to go faster the wider the travel lane is, and faster driving speeds = more dead walkers. By designing wide roads with wide lanes and way more space for cars than people, engineers send a subconscious message to drivers that it’s okay to go fast — and that folks on foot should get out of their way.
How to park a BMW/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0
But driver entitlement is not limited to the suburbs; I see it every day while in town walking or cycling. It is not just on large paths, it is everywhere. Even as the vehicles are morphing into SUVs even pickup trucks, the drivers seem to be much more removed from their surroundings, the deaths of people walking and cycling just keep on rising.
That’s why it’s time for true Vision Zero, rendering SUVs as secure as cars, cameras on every crosswalk, and maybe even Smart Speed Assist. Enough already.