Child Pedestrian Safety Education
Applying Learning and Developmental Theories to Develop Safe Street-Crossing Behaviors
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among young children, and 20% of these fatalities among ages 5-9 represent child pedestrians. Recent discussions in the literature on child pedestrian education have argued the effectiveness of education approaches versus engineering approaches for increasing child pedestrian safety. One of the main arguments against education is that children rarely show increases in safe street-crossing behavior after education interventions. A majority of child pedestrian education in the United States utilizes videos and classroom instruction to teach young children. Often, these programs find an increase in children's knowledge of pedestrian safety but do not show similar gains in increasing children's safety behaviors. One possible explanation for this consistent finding is that psychological theories of learning and more updated child development theories are not often used when developing programs. Interventions based on relevant learning theories and child development might be more effective in increasing safe pedestrian behaviors in young children. This report scientifically reviews the literature on child pedestrian education and discusses possible child pedestrian safety programs that could be more effective in keeping child pedestrians safe.