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FHWA Home / Safety / Pedestrian & Bicycle / Final Detailed Findings Report for Marketing Plan

The Pedestrian and Bicyclist Highway Safety Problem As It Relates to the Hispanic Population in the United States

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I. Executive Summary

A. Project Background

The nature and extent of the Hispanic pedestrian and bicycle highway safety problem is not well known. It is apparent that a disproportionate number of the persons killed in highway crashes of all types are Hispanic immigrants. While the reasons for this over-involvement have not been determined, it has been suggested that cultural differences, language problems,and a lack of familiarity with traffic in the United States may be involved.(Braver, 2003)

Census data show that the Hispanic population is growing faster than any other group in the United States. The highway safety problems of Hispanics will only increase as more and more Hispanics immigrate to the U.S. Accordingly, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) contracted with the Center for Applied Research, Inc. (CAR) and its subcontractor, The Media Network, Inc.(TMN).

B. Project Objectives

The contract objective was to determine the extent of the pedestrian and bicyclist highway safety problem as it relates to Hispanics.

The ultimate goal of this project was to provide Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) information for developing a marketing plan for pedestrian and bicycle safety messages for Hispanic audiences in the U.S

C. Quantitative Data: Main Findings

Each year an average of 545 Hispanics are killed in pedestrian crashes. Hispanic pedestrians account for 16.3% of all pedestrian crashes nationwide.

Each year an average of 79 Hispanics are killed in bicycle crashes. Hispanic bicyclists account for 15.6% of all bicyclist crashes nationwide.

Most (77.3%) of the Hispanic pedestrian crashes involve Hispanics of Mexican or Central/South American origin. Hispanics from other areas are less involved in Hispanic pedestrian crashes.

Table 1: Average Annual Pedestrian & Bicyclist Fatalities by Hispanic Country of Origin

Country of Origin Average Annual Pedestrian Fatalities Average Annual Bicyclist Fatalities
Number Percent Number Percent
Hispanics of Mexican Origin 353 64.8% 53 67.0%
Hispanics of Central/South American Origin 68 12.5% 10 12.7%
Hispanics of Puerto Rican Origin 31 5.7% 6 7.6%
Hispanics of Cuban Origin 30 5.5% 3 3.8%
Hispanics of European Spanish/Other Origin 63 11.6% 7 8.9%
Total Annual Hispanic Pedestrian Fatalities 545 100.00% 79 100.0%
Source: Fatal Accident Reporting System: 1999-2003

Most (79.7%) of the Hispanic bicycle crashes involve Hispanics of Mexican or Central/South American origin. Hispanics from other areas are less involved in Hispanic bicycle crashes.

Death rates are computed by dividing the number of deaths experienced by a group by the total population of that group. The Hispanic population in the U.S. has a higher pedestrian death rate than the non-Hispanic Whites but not as high as the non-Hispanic Blacks. The Hispanic population in the U.S. has a higher bicyclist death rate than non-Hispanic Whites but not as high as non-Hispanic Blacks:

Table 2: Deaths & Death Rates by Ethnicity for Pedestrians & Bicyclists

Crash Category Deaths & Death Rates By Ethnicity
Hispanic All Races Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black
Number Deaths Death Rate Number Deaths Death Rate Number Deaths Death Rate
Pedestrians 1,071 2.88 3,527 1.78 1,073 3.01
Bicyclists 121 0.32 519 0.26 120 0.34
Source: Center for Disease Control: 2001 data

D. Partnership and Coalition Building: Main Findings

The Media Network(TMN) contacted over 100 Hispanic community-based organizations in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. to learn more about the work these organizations are doing related to pedestrian and bicycle safety and to assess their overall interest in this topic. The goal was that these organizations would work in partnership with us to provide data regarding crash statistics, and to provide us with information on what actions, if any, are going on at the local level about this topic. The response from these organizations was disappointing, with many organizations not returning our calls.  The organizations we were able to talk to generally did not have much information on this topic.  A few provided reports, essays, or other documents with relevant information, or even personal stories about accidents they had witnessed or heard about. However, most organizations did not have such information. We did not find any significant Hispanic community-based local efforts related to pedestrian and bicycle safety.

E. Focus Group: Main Findings

Two focus groups, one for pedestrians and one for bicyclists, were held in each of four cities: Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, CA, Miami, FL, and New York City, NY. There were twenty-eight men and thirty-four women. All were of Hispanic origin. The focus group discussions were in Spanish.

The main findings from the focus groups are consistent with the findings from the partnership calls: Hispanics in these focus groups had not given much thought to these issues, but, when brought to their attention, they find them interesting and important. Participants were especially interested in the fact that Hispanics are over represented in pedestrian and bicycle accidents. The Hispanics in these groups see cultural differences as a main potential cause of accidents among Hispanics, and cite major differences in traffic laws and enforcement between Latino countries and the U.S. They report a general lack of education on these issues, and few Spanish-language sources of information. Basic information designed for Spanish speakers on this topic would be greatly appreciated and well received by these audience groups. Additionally, participants said that new immigrants are particularly in need of such information. Participants did not think any one particular group of Hispanics (e.g. Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Central Americans) was most at risk, however.

The main findings from the focus groups include:

F. Conclusions and Recommendations


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Page last modified on January 31, 2013.
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