People who drive expensive cars are less likely to yield for pedestrians crossing the road, a new study out of the United States has found.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Las Vegas, found the cost of a car was a significant predictor of whether or not a driver stopped for a pedestrian.
The study analysed video footage of driver behaviour at two mid-block, zebra-stripe, non-signalled crossings in Las Vegas' metropolitan area and also looked at how the gender and race of the pedestrians influenced drivers' decisions to stop.
Of 461 cars surveyed, just under 28 per cent stopped to allow pedestrians to cross, with the likelihood of the driver yielding decreasing by 3 per cent per every $1000 increase in car value (which was ascertained using US car valuation site Kelly Blue Book).
The average cost of the 72 per cent of cars that didn't stop was just under $2000 higher than those that did stop.
Overall, cars were more likely to yield for women and white people compared to men and people of colour.
Just under 25 per cent of cars yielded for people of colour compared with the 31 per cent of cars that yielded for white pedestrians.
The researchers said this particular finding was consistent with previous research, including a 2017 study which found "people of color are disproportionately affected by pedestrian crashes" in the US.
As for the influence of a car price's on its driver's willingness to yield, the research paper suggested a number of factors may be at play.
"Prior research has shown that wealth is associated with more unethical behavior (Gino and Pierce, 2009)," the study said.
"Greater wealth enables individuals more control over their life and a greater sense of self-focus (Kraus et al., 2009; Piff, 2014). In a series of four studies, Piff confirmed that 'higher social-class standing was positively associated with increased feelings of entitlement and narcissism'.
"Therefore, one potential explanation may be that drivers of higher value cars were displaying some of these characteristic traits through their lack of yielding behavior; e.g. felt a sense of superiority over other road users."
This Las Vegas research follows a study from the University of Helsinki which found owners of high-status cars were "more disagreeable" and "unempathetic".
A 2012 study from the University of California, Berkeley was one of the first to identify the link between driver affluence and treatment of pedestrians.
“One of the most significant trends was that fancy cars were less likely to stop,” researcher Paul K. Piff told The New York Times when the study was published. “BMW drivers were the worst," he added.
Irrespective of car price or pedestrian background, the University of Las Vegas researchers said their findings painted a troubling picture of pedestrian safety in the US city.
"It says that pedestrians are facing some challenges when it comes to safety, and it's really concerning," lead author and UNLV public health professor Courtney Coughenour told ScienceDaily.