How Well Can Child Pedestrians Estimate Potential Traffic Hazards?

Source: Transportation Research Board

"This study, involving 79 school children, indicated that their current level of training to cross streets may not be sufficient for them to cope with the prevalent traffic environments. School children in the before and after school care program were interviewed during the month of July 2001. About 90 percent of the school children in the study forgot basic instructions regarding which directions to look when they we were shown a photograph of a complex intersection which was traversed by some of the school children. The responses varied based on gender, age, and school. The study also showed that a surprising number of school children (50 percent) who walked home (alone or accompanied) did not know their home address. Fewer (41 percent) of those who were driven to school were found to have complete knowledge of their address. The present study confirmed earlier findings that children may be overwhelmed by traffic complexity. The average overall score was 11.8 out of 18 (highest achievable score). The percentage of correct responses varied considerably; for some questions it was lower than 30 percent, with highest at about 50 percent correct. The study indicated that the children from the school near the intersections that were used for assessment performed better than the ones who went to school farther away from those intersections. A two-way ANOVA of the overall score by age and school found a significant main effect of age and school, Age: F (2,73)=5.8, p<0.004; School: F (1,73)=5.6, p<0.021). Findings indicate that, although more specific studies need to be done, pedestrian safety education for children needs to offer more individualized and practical training that will help them to respond to various hazards they are exposed to daily. The authors feel that more research with school children in inner city urban areas where the traffic patterns have become more complex and the accommodations for school children who are walking to school have not been modified, is necessary."

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