Implicit bias & traffic safety (updated)

My Ph.D. advisee, Tara Goddard has done some groundbreaking work looking at how implicit biases may be affecting safety on the roads, particularly for pedestrians and bicyclists. In 2014, she worked with PSU psychology professor Dr. Kim Kahn and former student Dr. Arlie Adkins (now a professor at University of Arizona) to test whether the race of a pedestrian was associated with drivers’ behavior in stopping for them in a crosswalk. The project “revealed that Black pedestrians were passed by twice as many cars and experienced wait times that were 32% longer than White pedestrians.” The work was cited in this New York Times column by Nicholas Kristof. They are working on a follow-up study now.

Tara is finishing up her dissertation, which is looking at drivers’ implicit and explicit attitudes towards bicyclists and whether those biases might affect driver behavior. You can hear some of the results, along with an overview of implicit bias in a NITC webinar Tara presented.

Update, March 27, 2017: Check out’s story about the crosswalk study, quoting Tara.

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