Walking While Black: The Racial Disparity in Pedestrian Fatalities

Pedestrians of color are more likely to be killed in traffic crashes.

1 minute read

February 19, 2017, 5:00 AM PST

By Elana Eden


New York City Pedestrians

Drop of Light / Shutterstock

Traffic fatalities have been rising overall across the United States, and the percentage of pedestrians killed is growing. But the impact of these trends is not evenly felt across demographics: Pedestrians of color are more likely to be killed in traffic.

NPR's Morning Edition explores a study in Las Vegas that found that cars were less likely to stop for a black pedestrian than a white one crossing the street—suggesting that driver bias is a real factor in the racial distribution of traffic fatalities.

Correspondent Shankar Vedantam says researchers have been aware of this issue for "quite some time," and there's more research to be done. A larger study could yield additional reasons for the disparity—for instance, "that people of color are just more likely to be pedestrians." When that factor is controlled for, another could be that "minority neighborhoods have less safe traffic intersections"—making a case for focusing on racial equity in transportation planning.

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