Kids Under 14 Are Not Safe to Cross Busy Roads Alone, and Scientists Explained Why

Statistics say that during the
last several years 40,000 people have suffered annually in road accidents in
the US, including drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. We all know that roads
are dangerous and it bothers us even more when it comes to children crossing
busy streets. Scientists from the University of Iowa have studied psychological
and behavioral aspects that influence child safety on roads, and their
conclusions are pretty interesting.
Here at Bright Side we’ve
studied the theory explaining how children’s behavior on the road changes with
age, and here’s what we’ve learned.
According to scientists, kids
and adults cross the road differently.
Kids Under 14 Are Not Safe to Cross Busy Roads Alone, and Scientists Explained Why

For any adult, crossing the
street on foot seems like an easy thing to do. We look around, analyze the
traffic, calculate the time we need to cross the road, wait for the needed
traffic gap, and go. For a child, however, it’s anything but simple. During
experiments, scientists from the University of Iowa came to the conclusion that
kids in their pre-teen years can have difficulties identifying gaps in traffic
that are large enough to cross the road safely.
Kids Under 14 Are Not Safe to Cross Busy Roads Alone, and Scientists Explained Why
The thing is that young
children may not have developed the necessary motor skills that adults have
that allow them to cross the street right after a car has passed. “Some people
might think that younger children are able to perform like adults when crossing
the street,” says Jodie Plumert, professor of the University of Iowa. “Our
study shows that this is not necessarily the case on busy roads where traffic
doesn’t stop.” Even though most of the kids chose the same gaps in traffic as
adults, they cannot time their movement through traffic as well as adults can.
In the experiments, 6-year-old
kids had a higher risk of getting injured on the road, while kids above the age
of 14 had zero risk.

Kids Under 14 Are Not Safe to Cross Busy Roads Alone, and Scientists Explained Why

The team of university experts
invited children who were 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14 years old along with a group of
adults to participate in the experiment. The participants were placed in a
simulated 3-D road traffic environment, where each of them needed to cross the
road with a string of running vehicles. The time between the vehicles differed
from 2 to 5 seconds, and each person needed to cross the road 20 times. The
results of the experiments were pretty interesting.
Kids Under 14 Are Not Safe to Cross Busy Roads Alone, and Scientists Explained Why
It turns out that 6-year-olds
were “struck” by vehicles 8 percent of the time; 8-year-olds, 6 percent,
10-year-olds, 5 percent, 12-year-olds were “struck” 2 percent of the time, and
kids aged 14 and older had no accidents. It can be explained by the fact that
by the time a child turns 14, they gradually develop the 2 most important
skills for safe road-crossing:

  • They become better at
    analyzing the gaps in traffic.
  • They are quicker at stepping
    onto the street after a car has passed, compared to younger children.
The results of the research
obviously imply that parents of younger kids should take extra precautions.
What do experts recommend?

Kids Under 14 Are Not Safe to Cross Busy Roads Alone, and Scientists Explained Why
Scientists believe that it’s
better to be patient when it comes to letting your kid cross the road solo
until they reach a certain age. When you teach your kid to cross the street,
encourage them to choose gaps that are much larger than those you would choose
for yourself. Urban planners and city authorities can also do a lot to
guarantee child safety on roads. The places where kids are most likely to cross
the streets (for example, because it’s the fastest route to school) should be
equipped with a pedestrian-crossing aid.
Do you think parents should be
wiser when letting their kids walk alone? How old were your kids when you let
them cross the street on their own? Tell us in the comments!

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.