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FHWA Home / Safety / Pedestrian & Bicycle / Report of Focus Group Discussions in Washington, New York, Miami, and Los Angeles

Report of Focus Group Discussions in Washington, New York, Miami, and Los Angeles

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Executive Summary


The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (FHWA/NHTSA) contracted with The Center for Applied Research (CAR) and its subcontractor The Media Network, Inc. (TMN) to conduct research related to Hispanic pedestrian and bicycle safety. As part of this research, TMN and CAR investigated crash statistics for this population group, made contacts to Hispanic organizations to collect information and build partnerships, and held eight (8) focus groups with Hispanic bicyclists and pedestrians. This research was designed to enable FHWA/NHTSA to better understand the attitudes and beliefs of Hispanics living in the U.S. concerning these issues. The results will allow FHWA/NHTSA to develop effective communication strategies and programs that will complement its existing information and services.

This report primarily presents results from the focus group portion of this research, although we briefly discuss the partnership-building component to add context. TMN facilitated eight (8) focus groups with adults in Washington, DC, New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. Sixty-two (62) adults participated in these groups, twenty-eight (28) men and thirty-four (34) women. Participants were Hispanic men and women, over the age of 18, who either walked or rode their bicycles regularly.

Following this executive summary, additional information is presented on the logistics of the focus groups, which is followed by a detailed report of findings from the groups (one report on the pedestrian groups, and another on the bicyclist groups). The Appendix contains the moderator's guides used in the focus groups (in both Spanish and English), as well as the screening form that was used to recruit participants to attend the groups (in both Spanish and English). The Appendix also contains a handout of various U.S. traffic signs that was used in some of the groups.

Focus groups seek to develop insight and direction. The value of focus groups is in their ability to provide observers with unfiltered comments from a segment of the target population, and for decision-makers to gain insight into the beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions of the target audience. However, because of the limited number of respondents and the non-random nature of focus group recruiting, the findings from the focus groups cannot be quantitatively projected to a universe of similar respondents.

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 this issue, 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 somewhat 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 local efforts related to this issue.

Focus Group Main Findings

The main findings from our 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 overrepresented 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 these groups include:

Conclusions and Recommendations

TMN and CAR offer the following conclusions and recommendations:

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Page last modified on January 31, 2013
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