The earlier poll I mentioned over at Cognitive Daily has concluded, and the results are in.
As Dave Munger writes, vis a vis the above chart: “Overall, the chances of stopping varied a lot from situation to situation. Was there a marked crosswalk? Did the pedestrian appear to be looking at the car? Was she on the left or the right?”
The results seem to conform to what I’ve seen in pedestrian/crosswalk studies — i.e., that drivers are more likely to stop for a marked crosswalk, when the pedestrian is on their side of the road, and when they’re actually in the street, as opposed to standing on the curb. Signalling intention, in short, is a good way to gain right of way; whether the pedestrian was looking at traffic or not looking, interestingly, didn’t seem to tilt strongly either way.
Munger also notes: “One more thing: I’m not sure if the responses to this study truly reflect real-world behavior. Nora and I took the photos for this study on a road where the speed limit was 35. There was quite a bit of traffic, and so we spent a long time standing on the roadside waiting for traffic to clear. Not one driver stopped for Nora.” In other words, the poll respondents’ willingness to stop did not conform to the actual willingness of drivers to stop, which reveals one of the inherent weaknesses of self-reported data in traffic psychology.
For an interesting take on how pedestrians and drivers behave in crosswalks, and their understanding of the actual law (generally less than you might think), see “What They Don’t Know Can Kill Them“, by Meghan Fehlig Mitman, UC Berkeley Traffic Safety Center, and David R. Ragland, UC Berkeley Traffic Safety Center.
The key takeaway: “Results confirm that a substantial level of confusion exists with respect to pedestrian right-of-way laws. This confusion was exacerbated by intersections which had unstriped, or unmarked, crosswalks.”
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