Road accidents to children as pedestrians: the relationship between behaviour and accident risk

Repetto-Wright, Richard John Talbot (1977) Road accidents to children as pedestrians: the relationship between behaviour and accident risk. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis will argue that there is a mismatch between the information children are receiving about crossing roads from parents, schools and safety programs and the information they gain from their own experiences and from their observations of adult pedestrians.

Initial observations suggested that two features of children's behaviour on the roads lead to their greater liability to have accidents as pedestrians. Children can often be seen to enter the carriageway without paying attention to the traffic - this behaviour, popularly called "heedlessness", appears frequently in accident report forms as an explanation of the accident. Secondly, children can often be seen to behave inefficiently, hesitating, making false starts and running dangerously close to cars, when they are apparently fully aware of the traffic. This behaviour is best described as lacking in skill.

The studies, to be reported, relate measures of children's road crossing behaviour to measures of their accident risk. They reveal basic differences in the way children behave on busy, major roads and on quiet, minor roads. There is little evidence of "heedless" behaviour on major roads, where children generally are fully aware of what they are doing, but the children use different crossing strategies to adults. There is a contradiction between the way children are instructed to cross these roads and the way in which experienced pedestrians cross. Whereas, for example, children are instructed to stop at the kerb before starting to look for traffic, adults seldom arrive at the kerb without previously having assessed the crossing situation. Children do however develop these more efficient, adult crossing strategies in spite of the training programs. Children behave quite differently on quiet, minor roads. Here, there is more evidence of "heedless" type behaviour, and since quite frequently these roads are being used by the children as an extension of the pavement, it is unrealistic to expect them to behave otherwise. Conventional road safety instruction in this situation seems inappropriate.

An approach for reducing accidents is proposed, the effectiveness of which could be assessed by the behavioural and risk measures developed in the study. A greater awareness of the different problems associated with crossing major and minor roads is required. On major roads we should aim for a greater segregation of children and traffic, they should be easily identifiable, and instructions for crossing them made more relevant. On minor roads it must be accepted that conventional safety instruction is inappropriate, and an alternative approach must be found. It is suggested that the role of the driver is a greatly neglected factor here, and that drivers should be encouraged or forced to drive more responsibly in areas with high densities of children.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Howarth, C.I.
Subjects: H Social sciences > HE Transportation and communications
H Social sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 12370
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2011 10:02
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2017 13:14

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