Child Pedestrians

Scope of the Problem

Worldwide, approximately one-half of the motor vehicle fatalities are due to pedestrian-motor vehicle collisions. Children are among the groups at highest risk of pedestrian injuries, especially when the amount of walking done by children is taken into consideration. The risk to child pedestrians is very clearly related to the number of roads they cross.1 The greater the number of roads crossed, the higher the risk of pedestrian injuries. Poorer children under the age of 9 have higher rates of pedestrian injuries at least in part because of their increased exposure to traffic. The reduction in pedestrian fatalities to children in the US, UK, and other countries in recent years is probably largely due to a reduction in walking by children, (DiGuiseppi 1997).

Pedestrian injuries are most common among 5-9 year old children, and in this age group, pedestrian injuries are the most common cause of serious head trauma. Pedestrian motor vehicle collisions are qualitatively different from other types of trauma in that very few of the victims escape injury. In contrast, 94% of occupants of vehicles involved in crashes are uninjured. Police data under-report pedestrian injuries by one-half to two-thirds.

The most common type of action by the child leading to pedestrian injuries is the midblock dash/dart-out and intersection dash actions. These account for 60-70% of the total for children under the age of 10. Incidents in which children are run over by a vehicle backing up are limited primarily to the youngest age group—toddlers.

Pedestrian injuries are a complex problem, for which no single intervention will be completely effective. Control will require intervention at local and regional levels, and involve changes in the host, agent and environment. The evidence for the effectiveness of interventions at these various levels is highly variable. In this review, we evaluate these studies in the following areas of potential prevention strategies for pedestrian injuries to children:

Prevention Interventions