Crossing roads safely: An experimental study of age and gender differences in gap selection by child pedestrians
Pedestrian crashes are among the most common causes of death and serious injury to young children in the developed world. The literature suggests that younger children may be at increased risk of crash involvement, mainly due to poor or under-developed road-crossing skills. This paper reports on a study examining the effects of age and gender on road-crossing skill amongst children aged 6-10 years (those at highest risk of crash involvement). Children were asked to make road-crossing decisions in a simulated road environment in which time gap and vehicle speed were systematically manipulated.
Functional performance was also examined as part of a larger study. The results indicate that, for all age groups, gap selection was primarily based on vehicle distance and less so on time-of-arrival. The results also showed that the proportion of ?yes? responses increased as the time gap increased.
Younger children (6-8 years old) were more likely than older children (9-10 years old) to indicate they would have crossed in short distance and time gaps. This suggests that many younger children may
lack the skills required to make safe and appropriate gap selection of approaching traffic. Gender was not a significant predictor of road-crossing decisions. The findings from this research will play a major role in the development of countermeasures aimed to improve the safety of primary school-aged children, providing effective training aimed to improve essential skills and strategies to cross roads safely.