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Study Sheds Light on Psychological Factors That Contribute to Pedestrian Accidents

Many Portland residents rely on walking as an inexpensive form of transportation and for the health and environmental benefits it offers. While our area has a reputation as being a ‘walker-friendly’ city, the fact is that a disturbing number of pedestrian accidents in Portland happen each year. Alongside infrastructure issues, such as a lack of crosswalks or sidewalks,  the reckless driving behaviors of others on the road are frequently to blame. New studies look at some of the psychological factors involved. 

Portland Pedestrian Accident Study Yields Surprising Result

A recent study was conducted that monitored pedestrians in Portland as well as in the Las Vegas area. According to a February 26, 20202 MSN report, researchers were looking for psychological factors that may be at least partly responsible for high pedestrian accident rates in these cities. 

The study had participants wear brightly colored clothes while waiting at pedestrian crosswalks in high traffic areas. They then observed the behavior of more than 500 passing vehicles. While they were looking for a correlation between the driver’s behavior and the race or gender of the pedestrians involved, the actual results surprised them. 

Physical characteristics of people walking did seem to increase pedestrian accident risks to some degree, with incidents more likely to occur among women and minorities. However, it was the type of vehicle involved which seemed to have the biggest impact.  People in more expensive vehicles were more likely not to stop or yield to pedestrians attempting to cross. The researchers found that cars valued at $6,000 or less were among those most considerate of walkers on the road. For every $1,000 increase in a vehicle’s worth, the chances that a driver would stop or yield for a pedestrian decreased by three percent.

Study Claims Lack of Empathy and Entitlement Play a Role in Portland Pedestrian Accidents

The study, which is published in the March 2020 issue of the Journal Of Transport and Health, states that there are likely two main factors which may explain why higher value vehicles seem to increase pedestrian accident risks: 

  1. People with inexpensive, used cars are more likely to show empathy with walkers. They may rely more on walking themselves or used it as a primary form of transportation in the not-so-distant past. 
  2. Drivers in higher-value vehicles are likely to show less empathy and are more inclined to feel a sense of entitlement or even be somewhat narcissistic. The researchers state that these qualities may increase the likelihood of dangerous driving behaviors often attributed to pedestrian accidents, such as speeding, disregarding traffic signs and signals, distracted driving, and driving while impaired. 

Let Us Help You Today

When pedestrian accidents occur, the Johnston Law Firm P.C. investigates the and any underlying factors involved so that the driver responsible can be held accountable in a claim. If you suffer injuries, call (503) 546-3167 or contact our Portland pedestrian accident attorneys online and request a consultation today.


Marc Johnston

Lead Attorney at Johnston Law Firm, P.C.

Based in downtown Portland, Marc A. Johnston is the owner and managing attorney of the award-winning, internationally-known personal injury law firm, Johnston Law Firm, P.C. Marc's career has been dedicated to representing the injured and individuals who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. His focus on trial law creates the backbone of the Johnston Law Firm — a firm that is ready to go the distance in seeking justice for its clients.