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Report: Drivers Less Likely to Brake for Black Pedestrians

Drivers are less likely to brake for Black pedestrians attempting to cross the street, a new analysis finds.

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas also say the disparity is greater depending on the pedestrian’s neighborhood.

The phenomenon, known as “walking while Black,” found the average number of vehicles to pass by an African-American person who was already in the crosswalk was at least seven times higher compared to a White pedestrian in a wealthier neighborhood.

“Sadly, it wasn’t surprising,” Courtney Coughenour, assistant professor in the School of Community Health Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas said.

But researchers also cautioned for people to interpret the study’s results with care.

The study’s curators arrived at their conclusion by executing three scenarios, but found little statistical data to suggest a difference in the way drivers reacted to pedestrians, regardless of their race. In one scenario, more cars passed the White pedestrian than the Black pedestrian when they were waiting to step off the curb in a high-income neighborhood.

The study also noted a difference in the roadways between the high and low-income neighborhoods, both in the number of lanes crossed by the pedestrian and the posted speed limit.

The experiment took place in a neighborhood on the city’s west side where the median household income was $55,994 and an east side neighborhood with a median income of $32,884. It used two pedestrians, both similar in height, build and clothing. They took turns crossing the street roughly 126 times.

Citing the most recent figures available, more than 4,700 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in 2013. The CDC data also noted that fatality rates for Black and Latino men are more than twice as high than for White men.

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