Discover more from Overcoming Bias
Driving While Red
We act concerned to prevent tickets for "driving while black." And I recently asked:
Everyone I’ve ever talked to has the impression that women, especially pretty young women, are more likely to be let off with a warning. If racial bias gets people so upset, why is there little concern about this gender bias?
Today let me ask: why do we tacitly approve more tickets for "driving while red"? Driving a bright red car, I mean. I just bought a Mazda Miata roadster (zoom zoom!). My sons both preferred the bright "true red" color, and it looked good enough to me. But everyone I talked to thought bright red cars are far more likely to get traffic tickets for the same driving behavior. So I reluctantly settled for a muted "copper red."
Yes of course police eyes are naturally drawn to bright red. But we expect police to correct for biases from eyes being naturally drawn to black drivers. It seems we approve here of "the nail that sticks out gets hammered." If we pass a red car being pulled over and ticketed, we are more often smirking in satisfaction than offended by the blatant discrimination.
Added: One page suggests this is an urban legend, based on one small study. But the study didn’t control for driving speed, and didn’t focus on bright red sports cars, just reddish cars in general. And many other sources seem convinced otherwise.