A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa sheds light on many parents’ biggest fear. Researchers asked why children struggle to cross busy streets safely. The study examined children between the ages of six to 14, and the results were concerning. Researchers discovered that children do not fully develop the perceptual judgment and motor skills needed to navigate heavy traffic until they reach the age of 14 years old. For a grown adult, it is simple to cross a busy street without a second thought. Adults perform this task without considering the many, many skills that go into it.
Pedestrians must take stock of the traffic situation, and mentally calculate how long it will take them to go from one side of the road to the other. They also must estimate how fast cars are traveling, and how long it will take the moving cars to reach the area where they will be crossing. Children do not have the highly developed skills necessary to engage in this kind of analysis.
The team of researchers at the University of Iowa recruited children aged six, eight, 10, 12, and 14 years old, as well as a control group of adult pedestrians. They all faced a number of vehicles traveling 25 miles per hour, a conservative estimate of traffic speeds in residential neighborhoods.
Researchers placed their child subjects in safe but realistic simulated environments, and asked them to cross a lane of busy traffic multiple times. The action took place in an immersive three-dimensional interactive space. During the study, children were reaching out to touch the cars because the simulation seemed so realistic.
The younger children had difficulty crossing safely on a consistent basis. Within the six-year old group, pedestrian accident rates were as high as eight percent. Twelve-year old children were found to compensate for their inferior skills by waiting for bigger gaps in traffic—but that is relative to the traffic situation, and may not always get them across safely. Researchers did not note any marked improvement in safety and crossing-skills until they examined the 14 year-old study participants.
Parents of children under the age of 14 are advised to be extremely careful. Do not presume that your child has the skills to cross busy roads safely alone; they likely do not have the skill set needed to safely complete the task.
Study findings show that children cannot identify gaps in traffic that are large enough to allow them to go from one side of the road to the other without being struck by a car. Also, researchers found that young children did not have the fine motor skills to begin moving across the street at the earliest possible moment (i.e., as soon as a car has passed), thus shortening the available time to cross between gaps in traffic. When this lack of skills is combined with youthful impatience, it is a recipe for disaster.
New Jersey Pedestrian Accident Lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP Advocate for Young Victims of Pedestrian AccidentsIf you or someone you love has been injured by a negligent driver, call our pedestrian accident lawyers in New Jersey at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP today to schedule a free consultation. Learn more about how we can help you obtain the answers you deserve, and the compensation you need. Call us at 732-777-0100 or contact us online.