Children and young people – traffic environment risks

Children and traffic are not a good combination. Only when the children are 9–15 years old is it relatively safe for them to be around traffic.

The problem of children in traffic

Playful and impulsive

Much of a child’s life revolves around play. The rules of the fantasy world are all that count. It is obviously more fun to make a difficult football pass than to stop and check for cars!

Even if you see a child standing still and you have eye contact, you cannot feel completely sure of the situation. If a friend calls from the other side of the street, the child might suddenly forget about the cars and run out into the road. You must therefore be vigilant when there are children around.

Their senses are not fully developed

It takes longer for a child to shift between near and distance vision. Only when the child is 12–15 years old is their vision fully developed. It is also harder for them to distinguish where a sound is coming from. This means that a child’s reaction time may be longer than you think.

Unable to predict risk

A child can be taught to stop before crossing the street. The problem is that they do not quite understand why this is important, which means that the instruction can easily be pushed aside when it is time to play.

Another problem is that children have difficulty judging the risks. They judge a car coming towards them at low speed the same way as one swerving at high pace.

Children are small

Bus stop at night.

Look out for children (and adults) running out between the buses.

The smaller something is, the more difficult it is to see. In most cases, an adult can be spotted behind a parked car. A child, however, can be completely hidden by the car, which means that you will have no warning before they come out into the street.

Sensitive to polluted air

Children are particularly sensitive to the pollution caused by traffic. A child who is exposed to a lot of emissions has a higher risk of developing asthma for example.

School buses

When overtaking a stationary school bus, you have to be very careful. There is a great risk of the children getting off the bus suddenly running across the street without looking.

School buses have signs with warning lights that the driver turns on 100 metres before a stop and turns off 100 metres after the stop.

Crossing guards

In Sweden, crossing guards are most often children or young people themselves. They wear orange coats with reflectors and stand next to pedestrian crossings.

Main tasks of the crossing guards

  • Make sure that children coming to and from school get across the road safely.
  • Act as a “human warning sign” to alert drivers that there are children nearby.

The crossing guards have no official powers, for example, they are not authorised to stop traffic.

Practice theory tests

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Last updated 2017-09-07.