Expensive Cars Yield Less To Pedestrians: Report

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Image for article titled Expensive Cars Yield Less To Pedestrians: Report
Photo: Odd ANDERSEN / AFP (Getty)

If you already know that jerks are more likely to drive fancy cars, you’re probably not going to be surprised to learn that those very same fancy cars are unlikely to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. And a new study has confirmed that’s exactly the case.

A new study from the Journal of Transport and Health investigates if there is a correlation between car cost and the likelihood of not yielding to pedestrians. Here’s the method:

One white and one black female and one white and one black male crossed the intersection in a similar, prescribed manner. Crossings were video recorded. Driver yielding behavior was documented. The cost of car was estimated by cross referencing manufacturing websites and averaging the high and low values of estimated private sale. Generalized linear mixed model was applied, nesting within crossing attempt and within streets.


So, not only was this about merely pedestrians, but it was important to see how gender and race played into things. And it most definitely did (emphasis mine):

Of 461 cars, 27.98% yielded to pedestrians. Cars yielded more frequently for females (31.33%) and whites (31.17%) compared to males (24.06%) and non-whites (24.78%). Cost of car was a significant predictor of driver yielding (OR = 0.97; p = 0.0307); odds of yielding decreased 3% per $1000 increase.


The full study is available at the link above, but the big point comes in that final line: the more expensive your car, the less likely you are to yield to people. And, whether you admit it or not, you’re probably making an unconscious judgement about whether or not to stop depending on the pedestrian’s skin color or gender.

The Journal notes that there’s no way to understand why people aren’t yielding to pedestrians without the ability to interview them afterward, but it did offer some hypotheses:

it is important to note that personal characteristics may be related to driving behaviors. For example, younger drivers and male drivers are more apt to take risks while driving (Rhodes and Pivik, 2011; Turner and McClure, 2003). Similarly, socioeconomic characteristics may play a role. Prior research has shown that wealth is associated with more unethical behavior (Gino and Pierce, 2009). Greater wealth enables individuals more control over their life and a greater sense of self-focus (Kraus et al., 2009; Piff, 2014). In a series of four studies, Piff confirmed that “higher social-class standing was positively associated with increased feelings of entitlement and narcissism” (Piff, 2014).


To put it simply: if someone has a nice car, they are more likely to think they area little more important than the mere plebeians crossing the street on foot.

Maybe this is why punks wear studs on their leather jackets. To fuck with the rich when they refuse to hit the brakes. If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s that we should all start walking around in studs to see if we can’t mess up a fancy-pants paint job every now and again. It might just be the only way to get these drivers to learn.