U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Report of Focus Group Discussions in Washington, New York, Miami, and Los Angeles
Moderator's Guide (English)
Federal Highway Administration
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Hispanic Bicyclists/Pedestrians in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and DC
- INTRODUCTION AND ICEBREAKER (10 minutes)
- Introduction and purpose
Thank you for coming. Your presence and participation today are very important. My name is ____________ and I work for an independent communications company. I will be moderating today's discussion.
The goal of this project is to understand better the attitudes that Hispanics have about bicycle/pedestrian safety. We want to talk to you about your thoughts, feelings, and reactions concerning this important topic. Your thoughts and comments will represent those of other Hispanics living throughout the United States.
The feedback you will give us today is information we could not get anywhere else. Thank you for your willingness to come and give us your opinions. We think you'll enjoy talking about this important issue.
Before we begin, I would like to start with some ground rules for our discussion today:
- Everyone's participation is important.
- There are no wrong answers. Please be completely honest.
- Our discussion today is being tape recorded. These recordings allow us to write a more complete report, and to make sure we accurately reflect your opinions.
- We want this to be a group discussion, so you don't need to wait for me to call on you to speak. However, please only speak one at a time, so that the tape recorder can pick up all your comments.
- Our discussion is totally confidential. We will not use your names in any report. I also want you to remind you that I work for an independent communications company, and not for any federal agency or law enforcement organization. Everything you say here will be used for research purposes only.
- [When applicable] I want you to know that I am working with some other people on this project, and they will be observing our conversation from the other side of this mirror.
- As moderator, my function is to keep the discussion focused on the subject. If I see that we are deviating from the subject, I will bring us back to the topic so we can finish on time.
- Please, turn all cell phones off and keep away any other object that might distract us from the discussion.
Before we begin, I would like each of you to take a few moments to introduce yourself. Please tell the group:
- Your name
- Your country or origin
- How long you have lived in the US
- GENERAL ATTITUDES ABOUT BICYCLE/PEDESTRIAN SAFETY (20 minutes)
Let's begin by talking a little bit about your daily life and activities.
- Tell me briefly about the places you go each day, including school, work, the bus stop, the grocery store, etc. How do you normally get there?
- Describe as much as possible the physical places you walk/ride. Are there stoplights, stop signs, bridges, intersections, tunnels, highways, etc. on the paths you normally take?
- [CA Pedestrian only: Do you ever walk along the railroad tracks? Do you know of anyone who does? When and why?]
- How long is the trip? What time of the day do you travel? Is there an alternate way you could get to these locations?
- What do you think makes a pedestrian/bicyclist safe?
- Do you know of any laws that exist regarding proper behavior for pedestrians/bicyclists? Tell me as much as you can about these laws. [Prompts: Should you walk/ride against or with traffic? Where should you cross an intersection?]
- Where do you learn about these laws? Do you think you would find out if a law changed? Why or why not?
Thanks for sharing, this information is really helpful!
RISK PERCEPTIONS AND ACCIDENT HISTORY (30 minutes)
Now let's talk in a bit more detail about some of the situations you might encounter when walking/riding your bicycle.
- Do you think of your walks/rides as relatively safe or unsafe activities? Why or why not?
- When you are walking/biking, is there any part of your trip that makes you nervous or uncomfortable? Which parts, or why not?
- What precautions, if any, do you take to better protect yourself while walking/riding? [If not mentioned, prompt bicyclists for wearing of a helmet.] Probe: Have you ever worn reflective clothing or light colored clothing to make yourself more visible at night? Why or why not? [Probe for overall perceptions, concerns about appearance, cost, effectiveness, etc.]
- What about if you have to cross an especially busy intersection or roadway? Tell me more about any precautions you might take in this circumstance.
- Do you take any extra precautions if there is bad weather or if it is dark outside? If so, what precautions?
- (a.) Have you ever personally been in an accident while walking/biking? If yes, tell me more about it. What happened? Did you report it to the police? (b.) Have any of your family members or friends ever been involved in accidents while walking/biking? If so, what happened? Do you know if these accidents were reported to the police?
- Do you think Hispanics are less likely to report an accident? Why? [Probe: What do you think is Hispanic's general attitude concerning U.S. police officers? For example, is fear an issue?]
- Have you ever personally had any "near misses" while walking/biking? If so, please tell me about those.
- Based on your own personal experiences, who do you think is mostly likely to be involved in accidents such as these? For example, teenagers, adults, men, women, young children, seniors? Why?
- How much out of your way would you be willing to walk/ride to get to a safer place to cross a street? Does it depend on if you are in a hurry?
- A lot of times we do things in a hurry that we might not do otherwise. Have you ever crossed a busy street without looking, jay-walked, tried to cross a multi-lane highway, or done something else you knew was dangerous? Tell me about that incident. What did you do, and why? How much longer would it have taken you to get to a crosswalk or another safer place to cross?
- When you are walking/biking, what strategies, if any, do you use to monitor the behavior of other cars on the road? For example, how do you know, or would you know, if a car was going to turn in front of you? Do you try to make eye-contact with drivers to make sure they are aware of you?
- Sometimes, people walk/bike after consuming alcohol, because they don't want to drive their cars home, or for some other reason. Have you ever ridden your bicycle/walked a distance after consuming alcohol? Let me remind you that I do not work for a law enforcement agency; we just want to understand better what people do, your privacy will be protected. Can you tell me more about that incident?
Thanks, that's great information.
- DISCUSSION OF CULTURAL AND OTHER DIFFERENCES (30 minutes)
As you may know, Hispanics appear to be at greater risk for being involved in pedestrian/bicycle accidents, compared to non-Hispanics. I want to talk with you about why this might be.
- I want to talk about the differences that exist between your home country and the US regarding traffic rules, signs, customs, and behaviors. Let's start by talking about road signs. How are the signs here different than those in your home country? What signs are confusing? Are there any signs that are especially hard to understand, especially for recent immigrants?
- Is there more traffic in the US, or do people drive differently in this country, than in your home country? For example, do drivers yield to pedestrians/bicyclists in a different way than in your home country? How does this affect pedestrians/bicyclists? Probe: Are there different norms regarding how to cross the street in this country compared to your home country? If yes, what are they?
- [CA Groups Only: Are there differences between this country and your home country involving how to cross railroad tracks? What about regarding walking along railroad tracks? In your home country, are railroad tracks seen as a safe or unsafe place? What about in this country?]
- How might these differences put Hispanics at higher risks for accidents?
- Let's talk about some of the other factors that might lead Hispanics to be more likely to be involved in these accidents. For example, are Hispanics more willing to take risks? What kind of risks?
- Do you think Hispanic neighborhoods are less safe or have more and faster traffic than non-Hispanic neighborhoods? If yes, how so?
- Are there acculturation or language issues that might put Hispanics at greater risk? If yes, how so? For example, are recent immigrants at higher risk? Why or why not?
- Do you think Hispanics know less about U.S. traffic laws than non-Hispanics?
- In many Hispanic countries, traffic laws are not enforced as strictly as they are in the U.S. Do you think Hispanics are less likely to obey traffic laws here? Why or why not?
- Some studies have shown that Hispanics tend to be somewhat fatalistic, that is, believing that fate controls their destiny. Do you think this effects Hispanic pedestrian/bicycle safety decisions or behaviors? Why or why not?
- Do you think the answers to these questions depend on whether someone is originally from Mexico, South America, Central America, Cuba, or Puerto Rico? If so, what differences exist and why?
Great! This has been really helpful.
- IDEAS FOR HOW TO EDUCATE OTHERS (15 minutes)
Finally, we're going to discuss what we can do to make Hispanics more aware of pedestrian/bicycle safety issues.
- Let's start by talking about how interested you think other people might be in this topic. Let's say that over 1,000 Hispanic pedestrians die each year, and that Hispanic pedestrians are almost two times as likely as non-Hispanic pedestrians to die in this type of accident/ Let's say that over 100 Hispanic bicyclists die each year, and that Hispanic bicyclists are almost 1 and a half times as likely as non-Hispanic pedestrians to die. Do these numbers seem large or small to you? Are they surprising? Why or why not?
- Is this an issue you think the US Hispanic community would be interested in?
- Do you think pedestrian and traffic safety is a more important, less important, or equally important issue compared to education, health care, housing, alcohol/drug abuse, or other social issues that concern Hispanics?
- What do you think would be the best way to educate Hispanics about pedestrian/bicycle safety?
- If you wanted to learn more about this issue, where would you look for information? How about: [Probe for specific outlets, locations but don't spend too much time on repetitive answers]
- Doctor's offices
- Community Centers
- Bus shelters and other public transit areas
- The Internet
- Word of mouth
- Anywhere else?
- Would promotional and educational materials be most effective in English, in Spanish, or both languages (bilingual)? Does it depend on the audience?
- What would be the most effective way to reach you and other Hispanics with information about this topic? (leave if necessary)
- How would you summarize this issue for a friend or a family member? What advice would you give a friend or a family member to make him/her safer as a pedestrian/bicyclist?
- What advice should we give to drivers to increase their awareness about this issue?
Thanks for your feedback! We just have a few final questions.
- FINAL COMMENTS AND THANK YOU (5 minutes)
- Is there anything else about pedestrian/bicycle safety that we have not discussed today that you think is important?
- Finally, do you have any other questions or is there anything else you would like to say?
Thank you for coming! Your feedback and thoughts have been very important, and we really appreciate your assistance.
Page last modified on January 31, 2013.