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Traffic safety -- Oregon -- Portland, Pedestrians -- Oregon -- Portland, Race discrimination


A look at pedestrian fatality rates in the United States reveals that minorities are disproportionately represented. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2013 that in the first decade of this century, the fatality rates for black and Hispanic men were twice as high as they were for white men. Multi-disciplinary research has shown that racially biased behaviors are evident in many parts of society. Minorities experience differential outcomes in education, employment, health care, and criminal sentencing. Could racially biased treatment exist in transportation as well?

Implicit racial biases are subtle beliefs that individuals may hold beneath the level of conscious awareness, but that can lead to discriminatory behavior. These hidden biases are particularly influential in fast-paced situations. Driving behaviors are likely influenced by drivers’ implicit attitudes, as driving and stopping decisions are often fast-paced and full of distractions.

In a pilot study funded by NITC, Kimberly Barsamian Kahn and Tara Goddard of Portland State University, with Arlie Adkins of the University of Arizona, posed the research question, “Do drivers behave differently toward pedestrians based on race?” The investigators conducted a controlled field experiment to measure differences in drivers’ behavior toward black and white pedestrians.


This is a summary of TREC research project 2015-733, which can be found online at:

The final research report can be found here:

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