Background The number of child pedestrians killed or seriously injured on Canada’s roadways increases annually. One third of individuals who die on the roads are children. Research has focused on trying to change the behaviour of children who cross the road; this approach is not effective and can lead to victim blaming. Identifying characteristics of drivers who collide with pedestrians (pedestrian motor vehicle crashes-PMVC) and built environment (BE) risk factors can potentially influence policies that affect drivers and infrastructure; creating safer walking spaces for children.
Objective To examine the characteristics of 1) drivers involved in a child PMVC in Calgary or Edmonton, Alberta; 2) the BE in which child PMVC occur.
Methods Using police reported traffic collisions, we will examine characteristics of motorists involved in child PMVCs. These motorist’s characteristics will be compared with motorists who were involved in a collision with at least one other vehicle, but were assessed to be not at fault. This ‘not at fault’ control group will represent the source population of all motorists allowing us to highlight differences in driver and built environment characteristics between them and the drivers involved in PMVC.
Expected findings We hypothesize that the characteristics of drivers who hit a child pedestrian (i.e. behaviour, driver action) and the BE will significantly differ from the control population of non-culpable drivers.
Conclusion Expecting children to behave ‘appropriately’ on the road is unrealistic and trying to modify their behaviour with pedestrian training programs is ineffective. A more promising strategy to prevent PMVC relates to policies affecting drivers (e.g., distracted driving laws, speed limit reductions) and BE modification (e.g., traffic calming strategies).
Policy implications This innovative study will provide information that can be used to create conditions for safer walking for children and youth potentially leading to better long- term population health.