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Study suggests that 'walking while black' is especially dangerous

We have all heard of “driving while black,” the ironic term for racial profiling used by many people of color who say that police frequently pull their vehicles over on dubious pretexts. But “walking while black” is a new one on us.

Rather than having to do with law enforcement, this new phrase is about the elevated dangers African American pedestrians face in crosswalks compared to white people. A university study suggests that this phenomenon is real, and that black people are at higher risk of getting hit by a car than whites.

According to the study, motorists are less likely to yield to black pedestrians waiting at the curb to cross the street. This forces blacks to wait 32 percent longer to cross than whites. And it isn’t just single offenders; black pedestrians are twice as likely to be passed by multiple vehicles as whites.

A Washington Post article describing the study does not say whether these results mean that African Americans are more likely to get into serious pedestrian accidents. The Post speculates that these findings could be the result of implicit bias, which causes people to act subconsciously prejudiced toward those of other ethnicities, even when they do not believe they are prejudiced.

Of course, subconscious racial bias is no excuse for failing to obey traffic rules and yielding to pedestrians. Pittsburgh pedestrians of any race are entitled to reach their destination without having to dodge negligent drivers. No matter what your skin color is, getting hit by a car can cause terrible personal injury.

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