The effects of traffic calming on child pedestrian skills development

Tolmie, Andrew and Chinn, L. and Guy, J. and Stothart, G. and Thomson, J. (2004) The effects of traffic calming on child pedestrian skills development. Transport Research Laboratory.

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Engineering measures, such as traffic calming, are effective in reducing accidents for vulnerable road users such as child pedestrians and cyclists. However, their effect on the development of child pedestrian skills is unknown. This project reviewed relevant literature and re-examined existing data on child pedestrian exposure in calmed and uncalmed areas. This was followed by an empirical study which compared the pedestrian skills and exposure of children growing up in a traffic calmed area to those in a nearby 'untreated' control area. Pupils in schools local to each area were tested, and their parents/guardians interviewed. The study found little difference in the total exposure of children to traffic on local roads in calmed and control areas, although the patterns of exposure changed to some extent. Samples of 7-9 year old children from schools within the calmed area and the un-calmed control area were given both PC based and roadside tests of visual timing and gap selection, and a safe crossing location test. Although small differences were detected, none of the results showed any major difference in scores between children from the two areas, although scores did improve with age. It is possible that individual differences in pupils' road safety skills is due more to factors such as the attitudes of parents towards road safety, and differences between schools (overall academic ability) than to whether they live in a calmed or un-calmed environment.