SAN DIEGO, CA -- Ninety percent of
the children who participated in a California Institute of
Transportation Safety study do not know how to safely cross
the street, according to results released today by the San
Diego State University institute.
The study also showed that 50 percent of schoolchildren who
walked home did not know their home address. The study
participants included 79 children, 5 to 12 years of age,
enrolled in a before- and after-school care program at two
elementary schools in the mid-city area of San Diego.
SDSU Professor Sheila Sarkar, director of the institute,
said the results are surprising and alarming.
"Children are insufficiently prepared to handle the most
basic pedestrian tasks, like crossing the street, never mind
the deadly hazards found on our city streets every day,"
Sarkar said. "We have basic training to educate and prepare
novice drivers. We should do the same for our novice
In the study, Sarkar and other institute researchers
interviewed the children individually. The children were
shown photographs of intersections and asked basic questions
regarding pedestrian safety, including crossing at corners,
using crosswalks and where to look before attempting to
cross the street.
Sarkar said the results show slight variations between age
groups and genders, but the overriding constant is a
distressing lack of skills to safely cross streets. Sarkar
said the 8- to 12-year-olds knew more about pedestrian
safety than the youngest group of participants, but the
difference was slight.
About 12 percent of the older group of children knew how to
safely cross the street, compared to 4 percent of the
younger group. Fourteen percent of all the boys surveyed
knew how to safely cross the street, compared to 5.6 percent
of the girls surveyed. While the study does not have a large
sample size, Sarkar said it indicates a potentially large
Sarkar said children need to receive more individualized and
practical training that will help them respond to various
hazards they are exposed to daily walking to and from
school. "Most of us informally learned how to cross the
street from our parents," Sarkar said. "While that is
extremely beneficial, walking on our city streets has become
increasingly more complex, and a more formalized pedestrian
education program for children would save lives."
The schools selected for the study were chosen because they
have a high incidence of automobile collisions involving
pedestrians in the area, are in close proximity to heavy
traffic areas, and have a large percentage of students who
walk to school - nearly 80 percent.
San Diego State University is the oldest and largest higher
education institution in the San Diego region. Founded in
1897, SDSU has grown to offer bachelor's degrees in 78
areas, master's degrees in 61 areas and doctorates in
13. SDSU's more than 34,000 students participate in academic
curricula distinguished by direct contact with faculty and
an increasing international emphasis that prepares them for
a global future.
For more information log on to www.sdsu.edu.