Black pedestrians in the U.S. are more susceptible to being hit by a car when crossing the street than any other group, according to a new study that builds on what has unofficially been called "walking while black." Researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) found that drivers were less likely to brake, stop or even slow down for black pedestrians.

"From an urban design perspective, it is important to take this into consideration when designing pedestrian facilities, especially in communities of color," one of the study's authors, Courtney Coughenour, who is an assistant professor in UNLV's School of Community Health Sciences, said about the research that was published last week.

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Black people in the U.S. were already on heightened alert regarding their safety because of a number of factors, including a spate of police killings in recent years. But now, the new study has added another fear factor to the demographic that makes up more than 13 percent of the U.S. population. The study's findings did not appear top be rooted in racism, Coughenour cautioned.

"Given the design of this study, we are unable to determine the nature of driver bias," Coughenour said in a press release. "However, often times the decision of whether or not to yield to a pedestrian is made very quickly, so it is likely that any bias drivers may have is unconscious. It's important to understand and discuss findings of this nature, as dialogue is a critical first step in beginning to address such biases."

While the new study didn't cite how often the findings resulted in deaths, black and Hispanic pedestrians were killed at a rate of more than twice that of their white counterparts, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The group that was most vulnerable to pedestrian deaths was senior citizens 65 years and older, of which 19 percent were killed and 10 percent were hurt in 2013, the most recent years those statistics were compiled.

That same year, 4,735 pedestrians lost their lives from car accidents, meaning there was on average one pedestrian death caused by a vehicle every two hours in 2013.

While there were no statistics broken down by race for car ownership or drivers in the U.S., the phenomenon could be happening because black people typically live in urban environments where residents are increasingly reliant on foot traffic and public transportation.

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Most black Americans live in 10 states, with New York City and Chicago having the largest populations of African-Americans in the country, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

The UNLV study was conducted in the Las Vegas metropolitian area, where black people made up slightly more than 11 percent of the city's population of more than 584,000 people as of 2010, the most recent year the statistics were made available.