Can children really see cars coming when they cross the road?

Royal Holloway, London.  In Psychological Science, Vol. 22, No. 4, 04.2011, p. 429-434.
Authors: John P. Wann, Damian R. Poulter, and Catherine Purcell

Reduced Sensitivity to Visual Looming Inflates the Risk Posed by Speeding Vehicles When Children Try to Cross the Road

Publication date: 2011
Ranking: useful

The research identifies that children, due to the stage they have reached in their development, may not be able to detect vehicles approaching at speeds higher than 20mph.  They do not detect the visual looming of objects or discrete changes in optical size. Hence, its found that children up to 15 years old are over represented in pedestrian casualties. When a vehicle speeds they may not fully appreciate its approaching speed and proximity.

This is significant in terms of crossing design and overall highway design and road speed reduction.

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Read more in this Guardian Newspapers article looking at a 2016 RAC study about children and road casualties


To obtain a copy in an alternative format or language
Please write to:
John P. Wann,
Department of Psychology,
Royal Holloway,
University of London,
Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX,



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