SWOV Catalogus

121041

Verkeersveiligheid van kinderen : een ongevallenanalyse en literatuurstudie.
C 42393 [electronic version only]
Rijk, A.
Leidschendam, Stichting Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Verkeersveiligheid SWOV, 2008, 70 p., ref.; R-2008-6

Samenvatting This study into the road safety of children uses different types of data. In the first place crash data is used of the size, nature, and development of children's safety in the period 1984-2005; here a distinction is made between fatalities and in-patients. Specific attention is paid to the crash characteristics for the period 2001-2005. Secondly, mobility and population data is used to explain the found differences in safety. The third source, a literature study, yields the characteristics of the child's different development phases that are relevant for their traffic behaviour. A survey of existing and intended measures for the improvement of children's safety in traffic is based on this literature. The most important conclusion of this study is that the number of fatalities and in-patients among children aged 0-14, has decreased considerably during the past decades, certainly compared with the decrease among other age groups. In 2005, the number of fatalities among 0-14 year-olds was approximately 30 as opposed to 120 fatalities in the late 1980s. There were few changes in their exposure to traffic and in the number of children in the age group 0-14. Therefore, the favourable development of the number of traffic casualties among 0-14 year-olds cannot be attributed to these factors. It is unknown if children spent less time playing outdoors. The large decrease in the number of casualties is remarkable, considering the development phase children are in and their lack of experience. These two factors explain why they are not able to cope with traffic's dynamics which has increased considerably over the past years. It is unknown precisely which factors contributed to the decrease of the number of casualties among children. It probably is a combination of measures in the areas of spatial planning, urban planning, infrastructure, vehicles, security systems, and education. Especially important are the construction of safer residential areas, the Sustainable Safety programme which has now been carried out for more than a decade and has for instance resulted in the realization of zones 30, the safety improvements of passenger vehicles, an increased use of child's seats and seatbelts, public information, and educational programmes. It is unclear whether accompanying children on their way to and from school has contributed to this favourable development, as no information is available about a possible increase or decrease. Moreover, nothing is known about the safety effects. It is known, however, that learning to behave safely in traffic is very time-consuming. Even a relatively simple task like cycling in fact requires almost daily practice. Therefore it is essential to motivate parents and guardians to actively educate children about traffic during their daily trips. This can for example be done by cycling or walking to school together along the safest route. This practical experience cannot be acquired through education in school. The three most important modes of transport for children are walking, cycling and as a car passenger. Cyclists are the major group among both fatalities and in-patients. The number of in-patients is not increasing for children, as it is for adults, but with 63% of all children's hospital admissions they are a very substantial group. There is a large difference between the types of crash which were fatal for cyclists and those in which cyclists needed to be admitted to hospital. For the first group motor vehicles are the most frequent collision opponent, the second group mainly involves casualties from bicycle crashes in which no motor vehicle was involved. The majority of these are single-vehicle crashes like falling off the bicycle, riding against an object, et cetera. This is also the case for other age groups. Differences in exposure between boys and girls do not seem to be a good explanation for the differences in their numbers of casualties; the theory about children's development in different phases of their life, however, does. Boys not only take more risks than girls as moped riders or young novice drivers, they also begin to do so earlier. Already at a very young age, children start to show behaviour that is different for boys and for girls. This difference between genders has not only been established for road casualties, but also for other deaths of unnatural causes. Cyclists of 6-14 years old are relatively often involved in serious crashes. Head injuries, among which severe brain trauma, is very frequent. Therefore, wearing a bicycle helmet is an effective measure, especially for children. But children cease to wear a helmet of their own volition when they are six years old. Therefore, parents' awareness of the positive effects of a helmet needs to increase. Of crashes involving children it is not known if they were accompanied. Therefore, investigation of the road safety effect of accompaniment to and from school is recommended. An (in-depth) crash study could shed more light on this matter. The large number of crashes involving children and vans or lorries also merits further attention.
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