If you drive an expensive car, then you’re likely to pose a bigger threat to pedestrians, research has found.
A study published in the Journal of Transport and Health said that those who drive fancier cars are the least likely to stop to allow pedestrians to cross the street. The study also mentioned that the likelihood of slowing down to let people cross decreases by 3% for every $1,000 increase in the car’s value.
A group of researchers, led by Dr. Courtney Coughenour of the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, conducted the study by letting volunteers — one white woman, one black woman, one white man, and one black man — cross the street hundreds of times. They also filmed and carefully analyzed the drivers’ responses each time a car would pass by.
The volunteers were made to wear matching red shirts and were given specific instructions on how to approach the crosswalk. To ensure the volunteers’ safety, they were told not to begin crossing the road until they were sure that the oncoming car was going to stop.
To find out the estimated cost of each car, researchers used different pricing categories from the Kelley Blue Book (KBB) and they determined the car’s make, model, year, and overall condition using the video data that they gathered.
The study found that out of 461 drivers observed throughout the course of the study, 28% yielded to pedestrians. Drivers were also more likely to yield to the female (31%) and white (31%) volunteers, compared to the male (24%) and black (25%) volunteers.
Researchers, however, said that the cost of the car was a “significant predictor” to determine whether a driver would yield to a pedestrian. They also suggested that “feelings of entitlement and narcissism”, a “sense of superiority over other road users,” and “disengagement and a lower ability to interpret thoughts and feelings of others” cause a lack of empathy for pedestrians among drivers from a higher socioeconomic status.
The findings of this study bear similarity to the findings of another study by researchers at the University of Helsinki, published in the International Journal of Psychology in December of 2019. The study concluded that drivers who owned more expensive cars were likely to be “argumentative, stubborn, disagreeable, and unempathetic” and those who possessed these undesirable traits were more likely to be drawn to “high-status cars.”