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Publication Number: FHWA-RD-99-089
Date: December 1999
Research, Development, and Implementation of Pedestrian Safety Facilities in the United Kingdom
10.1 Child pedestrians
The DETR's child pedestrian safety strategy (DOT, 1996b) continues the Government's commitment to support child road safety education while placing more emphasis on driver responsibility and speed reduction through physical measures and advertising campaigns. Research commissioned by the DETR (Thompson et al, 1996) concludes that the commonly-held model of child psychological development, which assumes that children are incapable of understanding traffic until the age of about 9, is erroneous and that given proper methods, children can be taught effective road safety skills at a young age (from around 5 years old) and do not need to be separated from traffic until their "childhood has matured out of them" at the age of about 9.
The effects of vehicle speed on the severity of pedestrian casualties has been a recurring theme (DOT, 1992a). The DETR has continued and increased the "shock index"level of its Kill your Speed TV adverts, employing home video of actual child victims. These stress appropriate speeds rather than simply staying within speed limits. The message also indicates that drivers have a special responsibility for the safety of children.
Some local authorities, e.g., Suffolk, have introduced "speed pledge" campaigns whereby drivers are invited to sign the pledge to drive at appropriate speeds and to display car stickers to that effect. In some cases this has been in cooperation with the police who have invited speeding motorists to sign the pledge.
Unfortunately, there seems to be growing evidence (Silcock et al 1993) that drivers are concentrating on other motor vehicles — which represent a potential threat to them — and not on pedestrians. This may be a reflection of the increased safety of car occupants relative to pedestrians, and increased levels of motorized traffic. The authors conclude that the worst drivers are unlikely to respond to education alone.
Keywords: pedestrians, pelican crossing, zebra crossing, puffin crossing, traffic calming, tactile pavement surfaces