Racial bias in driver yielding behavior at crosswalks

Tara Goddard, Kimberly Barsamian Kahn, Arlie Adkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Psychological and social identity-related factors have been shown to influence drivers' behaviors toward pedestrians, but no previous studies have examined the potential for drivers' racial bias to impact yielding behavior with pedestrians. If drivers' yielding behavior results in differential behavior toward Black and White pedestrians, this may lead to disparate pedestrian crossing experiences based on race and potentially contribute to disproportionate safety outcomes for minorities. We tested the hypothesis that drivers' yielding behavior is influenced by pedestrians' race in a controlled field experiment at an unsignalized midblock marked crosswalk in downtown Portland, Oregon. Six trained male research team participants (3 White, 3 Black) simulated an individual pedestrian crossing, while trained observers cataloged the number of cars that passed and the time until a driver yielded. Results (88 pedestrian trials, 173 driver-subjects) revealed that Black pedestrians were passed by twice as many cars and experienced wait times that were 32% longer than White pedestrians. Results support the hypothesis that minority pedestrians experience discriminatory treatment by drivers at crosswalks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
StatePublished - Jun 29 2015


  • Discrimination
  • Intermodal conflict
  • Pedestrian safety
  • Racial bias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Applied Psychology


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