Traffic > Safety

Do fancy cars make drivers more likely to be rude?

Human life is more valuable than any car

Cars are supposed to stop before the pedestrian crossing, not on it. PHOTO FROM PEXELS

Have you ever had the feeling that drivers of posh cars are somehow less polite than those of cheaper vehicles? Maybe a sports car cut you off in traffic? Or a luxury SUV almost ran you over, while a little compact politely stopped when you crossed the road?

Well, it seems that perception is anchored in reality, if a study from the University of Nevada is to be believed. Research conducted by scientists at the Las Vegas-based institution came to the conclusion that drivers of expensive cars are least likely to stop for crossing pedestrians. They even found a formula to determine how likely a car is to stop or not.

In the Philippines, even the least expensive vehicles don't care about pedestrians. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

The concept of yielding to humans at pedestrian crossings is seemingly as alien to Filipino drivers as it is to many American ones. Researchers measured how many cars stopped for pedestrians at crosswalks, and out of 461 vehicles, a measly 28% yielded. All others just saw the white stripes as some sort of road decoration that is to be ignored entirely.

The most interesting discovery in this study is not that people still don’t take these crossings seriously enough, but how the price of the car correlates with the likelihood that the driver will stop and let a person cross in front of him or her.

Boffins found that the odds that a car would stop decreased by 3% per $1,000 (P55,000) increase in the car’s value. Researchers estimated the cost of each car using pricing categories from Kelley Blue Book, a widely recognized vehicle valuation and automotive research company.

Do you think the driver stopped because of the dog? PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

The study was conducted by letting one white and one black male, and one white and one black female cross the road in the same manner multiple times. The whole thing was recorded on video, and scientists then estimated the value of the cars by averaging the high and low values of estimated private sales.

Out of 461 cars, only 129 (or 28%) yielded. Cars stopped more often if the pedestrian was female (31.33%) and if he or she was white (31.17%) compared to male (24.06%) and non-white (24.78%).

The study concluded that further research is needed, but its findings already make interesting reading. It remains to be discussed why drivers of posher cars are less likely to stop for pedestrians. Maybe it’s a sense of entitlement or a generally more assertive attitude to life.

Crossing the street shouldn't be so dangerous. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

One question that has been answered without a doubt is the fact that seemingly not enough people stop at pedestrian crossings, and that’s seemingly as true in Las Vegas as it is in Metro Manila.

When I moved to Manila many moons ago, I at first foolishly believed that cars would religiously stop at zebra crossings with the same absolute certainty that they did back on the little British island where I had lived before.

Boy, was I in for a surprise and a number of near-death experiences! Fact is that we should always stop at pedestrian crossings when a soft, squishy human is trying to get to the other side of the road. The value of your car doesn’t even come into it. It’s just the safe, decent, and polite thing to do.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.