A leading social researcher has suggested that road safety professionals could be doing more to encourage independent travel by children, rather than ‘ducking the issue’.
Kris Beuret, from Social Research Associates, made the claim in a presentation to delegates at the 2016 National Road Safety Conference in Bristol on 15-16 November.
The presentation was based on a paper titled ‘Children and Travel’ authored by the co-presenters which looked at the decline in unaccompanied journeys to school, the ‘lack of strategic age related intervention work’ and the trade-off between lower speeds and an increase in slight child casualties.
The presentation, jointly delivered by Ms Beuret and Heather Ward from UCL, looked at the dilemmas faced by parents and road safety professionals in balancing the need to encourage children to travel independently, with concerns about road and personal safety.
Kris Beuret told delegates that children are spending much more time indoors looking at devices and screens, and making fewer trips whether by car, rail, walking or cycling. They are also making fewer independent trips, especially on the journey to and from school.
She explained that this has wider implications than the obvious because it ‘affects children’s ability to understand some academic subjects’.
Her research, carried out on behalf of the Independent Transport Commission, found that while children want to go out more on their own, parents are often nervous and discourage this.
She said there is a ‘lot of frustration’ among parents and identified a lack of advice and guidance to help them deal with this issue.
She concluded by suggesting that road safety professionals should be developing ‘new approaches to training’ which encourage independence and facilitate children’s desire to play outdoors.
Click here to watch the joint presentation by Kris Beuret and Heather Ward.
Want to know more about children and road safety?
Key facts and summaries of research reports – visit the Road Safety Observatory
Online library of research and reports etc – visit the Road Safety Knowledge Centre