Objective: To gain an in-depth qualitative understanding of parents’ views about their children’s exposure to road traffic injury risk in low socioeconomic areas.
Design: Focus groups facilitated by a moderator with content analysis of data.
Setting: Focus groups were conducted in 10 low socioeconomic English districts that also have high rates of child pedestrian injury. Research was conducted in community venues within each area.
Subjects: Parents of children aged 9–14 years living in low socioeconomic areas.
Results: Parents believe that children play in their local streets for the following reasons: they like playing out with friends near home; there are few safe, secure, and well-maintained public spaces for children; children are excluded from affordable leisure venues because of their costs; insufficient parental responsibility. For children that play in the street, the key sources of risk identified by parents were: illegal riding and driving around estates and on the pavements; the speed and volume of traffic; illegal parking; drivers being poorly informed about where children play; children’s risk-taking behavior.
Conclusions: Intervention programs need to take into account multiple reasons why children in low socioeconomic areas become exposed to hazardous environments thereby increasing their risk of injury. Multi-agency partnerships involving the community are increasingly needed to implement traditional road safety approaches, such as education, engineering, and enforcement, and provide safe and accessible public space, affordable activities for children, and greater support for parents.
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Competing interests: None.